Just for all you nature lovers! I wanted to give a recap of our experience at the 2013 fall Bird Banding. About 2 weeks ago Alex and I woke up very early and made our way toward Fort Morgan to see all the happenings at this year’s bird banding session. We got out of the car on the cool October morning and headed across Fort Morgan road into a secret little clearing just to the west of an old brick path.
Once in the clearing the humming of constant activity catches your attention. A small army of volunteers are traveling back and forth from the bird banding tent, covered with scales, measuring tools and reference books to unseen locations.
Every volunteer made their way to a table just inside the tent occupied by at least 2 workers. The volunteers each had small bags attached to a belt or apron around their waist. Each mesh bag held a bird. These bags were hung on a sort of Lazy Susan stand until it was its turn. Once the bird in the bag made it to its turn it was carefully removed from its bag, weighed measured, its sex and age is determined, and it is given a special band for its leg.
This bird is then handed off to one of the experts who teach the crowd about that type of bird and bird banding in general. Then one visitor is allowed to release the bird back in to the wild. This entire process takes just a few minutes. This valuable information is used to track migration patterns, lifespan, and health of the population of each type of bird that is banded.
To me the most exciting part was seeing these beautiful creatures up close. I had the opportunity to release a juvenile ruby throat-ed hummingbird after it received its band. This tiny bird was brilliantly colored and weighed something similar to a dry tea bad in my hand. His emerald green feathers had a shiny quality to them and he was so young that he had only a single red feather on his throat so far. More mature males have red throats that sparkle like a ruby as they zip from one place to another.
As we were taught before this little jewel was placed in my hand it takes a huge number of these uniquely labeled bands to even weigh an ounce. Once our new found education was complete the head Bird Bander, Mr. Sargent, asked me if I wanted to let him go. He carefully placed the tiny bird in my hand and his little warm body rested in the center of my palm and I could feel his little heart beat. He rested for just a moment in my hand watching all the spectators. His rest was just long enough for Alex to snap a picture and then he was suddenly hovering over my palm. The next moment a little green flash shot off toward Fort Morgan.
This special little bird is just one of half a dozen that we watched released that morning. This particular humming bird will continue to eat in Fort Morgan and gain weight before he travels in one non-stop flight to South America for the winter. Many of the birds we saw being banded are fairly local residents. They do not travel south for the winter but stay in the area and enjoy the mild Fort Morgan weather. They Bird Banding team was excited to see the increase in the population for these finely feathered friends.
If you are visiting Fort Morgan during the first two weeks of October be sure o take a morning and witness the Bird Banding in Fort Morgan. This is a great event to bring your child to or that nature lover in your life. If you are interested in learning more about Fort Morgan bird banding visit Mr. Sargent’s Humming Bird site. You and your family can enjoy the next bird banding in the spring of 2014. We always offer special rates for folks coming to enjoy this special event. Give us a call when you are ready to book your spot for the spring. See you there!