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2009 Peoria Hummingbird Festival
August 22, 2009
The Peoria Audubon Society jointly hosted the 2009 Peoria Hummingbird Festival with the Illinois Audubon Society and the Peoria Park District. By the 9:00 start time at Forest Park Nature Center, people were already streaming in -- anxious to see these remarkable little creatures. For a small donation ($5.00+ suggested) to the Illinois Audubon land acquisition fund, participants could "adopt" a hummingbird. After capture, the birds were measured; then banded; then released by the adoptee.
Even before the 9:00 AM starting time, the crowd was lining up to adopt a hummingbird
Gathering Crowd - Eager to Adopt a Hummingbird
According to Vernon Kleen, one of the few people registered to band hummingbirds, the purpose of banding is to scientifically help determine the birds longevity, migration patterns, and develop a picture of the overall health of a population. If a banded hummingbird is caught again, the "adoptive parents" will receive a letter showing when and where their hummingbird was caught.
Merle Long's "Adopted" Hummingbird - just before flight
Merle Long was the first person to release his adopted hummingbird.
Paige and Brooke Adopt a Hummingbird
Paige and Brooke convince their Dad to adopt a hummigbird
Vernon Kleen Addresses Hummingbird Questions
Early in the morning, as we waited for the first capture, Vern took the opportunity to tell the crowd all about hummingbirds.
Vern Shows Volunteer How to Operate Trap Door
In the days before the Hummingbird Festival, numerous hummingbird feeders are located in an area. Then, the night before the event, the feeders are removed and a number of them are replaced with the type of trap you see in the above photo. Where a feeder once stood, now the feeder has a cage with trap door around it. A volunteer (1) patiently waits for a hummingbird to enter the trap; (2) wait until the hummingbird sits on the feeder, then (3) pushes the remote control button for the cage door to fall. Since hummingbirds are so fast, if the hummingbird has not yet settled onto the feeder, they can quickly zoom out of the feeder before the door closes. Hence, patience is required.
Vernon Kleen Gets Ready to Band a Hummingbird
After capturing a hummingbird in the trap, the bird is transferred to a small pink cloth bag. The birds are then transported to the banding table in the pink bags. In the above image, a hummingbird is in the pink bag - ready to banded.
Vern Shows Eager Crowd a Hummingbird
The crowd watches in awe as Vern shows off a banded hummingbird.
Examining a Just Banded Ruby-throated Hummingbird
After banding, Verne carefully examines the hummingbird to assure that everything is proper and that the band will not interfere with the hummingbirds life. One can almost read the number on the above hummingbird band. Note the hummer's long tongue sticking out of the beak.
Feeling 1200 beat/min. Heartbeat of Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Verne explained that only the male ruby-throated hummingbirds that have the bright red gorget. Note the long tongue in the above male. Verne explained that the hummingbirds drink from a feeder like a cat. That is, they lap up the sugar water.
Recipe: 1 part common cane sugar and 4 parts water.
Brooke & Paige Watching Verne Get Band Ready - Hummingbird in Pink Bag
In the above image, Verne is getting ready to band another hummingbird that is safely kept in the pink cloth bag. Paige & Brooke are watching as Verne gets another band ready.
Note the card in front of Verne's hand. It contains bands for about 200 hummingbirds. Earlier, Verne explained that he uses a single edge razor blade to carefully cut each band from the card.
Examining Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Verne is examining a hummingbird in the above image.
Merle Long Releasing Adopted Hummingbird
Close-up of Merle Long's Adopted Hummingbird
During the morning, back in the area where the hummingbird "capture cages" were kept - and during a moment when the crowd was quiet - a number of "wild" turkeys came up to investigate the possibility of seeds spilled from the bird feeder. The turkeys at Forest Park Nature Center have apparently gotten accustomed to the presence of people. They have also gotten accustomed to "easy pickings" from the bird feeders.
"Wild" Turkeys Coming in to Investigate
Then, after a few more minutes Joan was ready to release her adopted hummingbird.
Joan Releasing her Adopted Hummingbird
One of the participants at the event brought a video camera and posted the following release of Joan's adopted hummingbird on YouTube.
After a gentle tap from underneath, the ruby-throated hummingbird is launched into the air. With each release, the crowd was still thrilled to watch this awesome event.
Robin Releasing her Adopted Hummingbird
Close-up of Robin's Hummingbird
Robin was another person that was lucky enough to adopt and release a ruby-throated hummingbird.
Photos are courtesy of Dennis, humble webmaster for Peoria Audubon Society
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