This was one of the most fascinating activities of the entire Nature Quest festival. Scientists Bob and Martha Sargent were conducting studies on the hummingbirds in this area and they allowed us to “get up close and personal” to the tiny birds. They taught us about all the aspects of identification, behavior and habitat needs of the hummers in our area.
First, they trapped the birds in a large cage with a one-way entry. Their assistant pulled an old pantyhose toe over his hand and carefully took hold of a bird. Then he pulled the pantyhose around the bird and secured the end and hung the tiny bundle on a rack for the Sargents. The Sargents placed the bird on a scale. Then they took the bird out of the pantyhose and measured the length of the longest wing feather, the tail and the beak and checked the amount of fat. They checked the females to determine whether they were ready to lay an egg. Finally, they put a tiny metal band on the bird’s leg. When they were ready to release the bird, they put it into a participant’s hand. Usually the bird just sat there for several seconds before flying away. All the data collected, including the species, were noted on a spreadsheet beside the number imprinted on the leg band.