Currently in BC there are approximately 18 banders who gather data and put on bands (what we lovingly call bling) to track individual birds. The group is trying to learn hummingbird migration routes, evidence of site fidelity, population structure (sex/age/health), habitat requirements and their role as pollinators. When a bird is trapped, besides having a band applied, its overall health is assessed in many ways. Measurements are taken of culmen (bill) and wing; fat deposits, molt of feathers and parasite levels are noted; females are assessed for gravidity (evidence of an egg or recently laid egg); and finally weight of the bird is taken. All this is done with great care and respect for the bird and accomplished in a matter of a few minutes. If a bird shows signs of stress it is released immediately!
Along with the direction and guidance of the Rocky Point Bird Observatory (RPBO), the Princeton banders have had tremendous financial and moral support from our local Vermilion Forks Field Naturalist Club. The initial outlay for the equipment was costly so with the help of the club we were able to get up and running sooner.
From the Hummingbird Project of BC, under the umbrella of the RPBO, Cam Finley and Alison Moran came to Princeton in 2010 and 2011 to train a local group, who were then licensed by Ottawa in 2012 and 2013, and permitted to trap and band these wonderful little birds. The mission of RPBO is “conservation through monitoring, research and public education.” It is a science-based project dedicated to the conservation of hummingbird populations and their habitats throughout BC. Of special concern is the Rufous Hummingbird, whose population has declined 63% in the last forty years. Their migration routes, breeding and wintering sites are vulnerable to changes from global warming and man’s activity on the land, changes that could eventually stop this important pollinator from returning year after year.