Posted by: aboutbirds | September 27, 2009

Bird Banding at GCBO

Hummingbirds are astronomically small. If you’ve ever seen one up close, say in somebody’s hand, then you cannot really realize how small they are. Now why am I beginning this post with a random fact about hummingbirds? It’s because I went hummingbird banding at the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory or GCBO which is located in Lake Jackson, TX. I volunteered to work there today because on every Saturday during the month of September they what is called the Xtreme Hummingbird Xtravaganza. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are netted and banded while they are on their way across the Gulf of Mexico to Southern Mexico and Central America. These tiny birds travel thousands of miles to their wintering grounds. If that’s not amazing, then I don’t know what is.

The Catching of the Birds

If you have never seen a bird being banded, then try to. It’s a very interesting experience. Though, to band birds you have to be certified bander, but that doesn’t mean you can’t watch. First off, they have to catch the birds and they do this in two different ways. They set up a hummingbird feeder in bird cage and the door is attached to a string. When a hummingbird flies in the string is pulled and its captured. It is then picked out and put into a mesh bag to be taken to the bander. Another way to catch birds is through a mist net. It’s a bit difficult to describe, but is a net with about five levels and each level has an excess amount of very fine netting. The bird will fly into the net and be caught by the excess netting in the bottom, making a sort of sack. Not many hummingbirds are caught this way, but they did catch two female blue grosbeaks, a chickadee (didn’t get to see which kind), to male cardinals, a female cardinal, about ten or so hummingbirds, and a northern mockingbird. All of these birds were banded.

The Banding of the Birds

After being caught the birds are taken to the bander, where he puts a tiny hummingbird band into special pliers, takes the hummingbird out of the bag, and puts it on. The pliers have ring in them where is small enough to squeeze the band around the bird’s leg, but big enough to not squash the bird’s leg. That would not be good and rather defeat the purpose of banding. The bander then takes a straw and blows on the belly of the hummingbird to see its fat content. The fat content is rated and recorded. The bird is then put into a small tube to be weighed. It weighs about 3 g, which is tiny. The bander then removes the bird and feeds it from some sugar water. The tongue of a hummingbird is so small. They caught a few new hummingbirds, meaning they were born this passed spring or summer, a few males and a female.

The same procedure is used on all the other birds caught today.

Not too many hummingbirds were caught today, which is a bit unfortunate. They caught 45 hummingbirds this passed Tuesday. That would have been amazing to see. Today was awesome because everybody I met wants the same thing I do – to conserve birds. They love birds and don’t want them to go extinct – they actually care. The one bad thing about today was the mosquitoes. They were horrific. So bad that it didn’t matter how much bug spray you put on – they still bit you – even through jeans. They’re monsters. One tip – don’t go into the woods where there is standing water right after a rain. You will be swarmed in a cloud of vicious blood-sucking beasts. But after you get passed that, bird banding is really fun, well to watch anyway. If you can watch it somewhere around you, then by all means go and volunteer or go and watch. You will not be disappointed.

Here are some pictures from today:

‘Till next time – enjoy!



  1. that was OK … for more information regarding Netting bird, bird control, bird repellents, pest bird control, spikes bird you can visit :

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: