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2008 Peoria Hummingbird Festival

Saturday, August 23     

The Peoria Audubon Society jointly hosted the 2008 Peoria Hummingbird Festival with the Illinois Audubon Society and the Peoria Park District.  Before the 9:00 AM 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. 

Vernon Kleen, of the Illinois Audubon Society, one of only two people in the state of Illinois that are licensed to band hummingbirds was present.  After capture, ruby-throated hummingbirds were measured, banded, then released.  After the banding, Verne carefully transferred the hummingbird to the adoptee so that they could release the bird back to the wild (see photos below.)

Dennis, humble webmaster for Peoria Audubon, took a few photos to remember the event. 

People lining up to Adopt-a-Hummingbird

If the hummingbird is captured again, Vernon Kleen, will send the adoptee a letter stating when and where their adopted hummingbird was caught.  Vern said that last year, he sent out 174 certificates of previously captured and banded hummingbirds.  Note that the Peoria event is only one of 12 hummingbird festivals that will Vern host in 2008. 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Hovering Near Trap

To capture the hummingbirds, a hummingbird feeder is placed inside a wire cage.  Then, when the hummingbird goes to inside the trap to feed, a volunteer presses a remote control button and the trap door closes.  The hummingbirds are so fast that the volunteer was instructed to not press the button until the hummer rests on the feeder.  Else, the hummingbird flies out before the door is fully closed. 

In the image, the opening of the trap door is behind the cage and is not visible.  However, the raised-open trap door can be seen.  A small mist net is visible on the side of the cage.  The mist net provides a soft means of transferring the captured hummingbird to a cloth bag for transportation to the banding table. 

Verne Kleen Telling the Crowd About Banding Hummingbirds

Verne indicated that by banding hummingbirds, we are able to gather valuable information about them.  For instance, if a hummingbird lives past the first year, they may live for 3-5 years.  It is possible that some may even live further.  Vern said that with his previously banded hummingbirds, there was one unique individual that he captured for 4 years straight.  This belies how they may return to the same location year after year.

One of the more amazing facts is that ruby-throated hummingbirds migrate across the Gulf of Mexico to winter in Mexico and parts of Central America.  Since there are no "filling-stations" over the ocean, the hummingbirds pack on the calories in the short time before their migration.  During this time, they increase in weight from 3 grams to a "whopping" 5 grams.  The increase in body fat helps fuel them toward their winter destination. 

The Crowd Watches Intently as Verne Bands a Hummingbird

Examining Captured Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Verne determines the sex, measures the bill length and determines if the hummingbird is a juvenile for recording the banding. 

Measuring Hummingbird Bill

Affixing Band for Hummingbird

The tiny band are affixed to the hummingbirds leg.

The Amazing Closeup View of a Hummingbird

Vern provided an amazing close-up view of the hummingbird for the people at the event.

Feeling Heartbeat of Hummingbird

Verne stated that the hummingbird's heart beats at amazing fast rate of 1200 per minute.  Not only that, but since the hummingbirds were calmed by the banding and not fighting or moving, he allowed participants at the festival to feel the hummingbirds heartbeat.  Note that Verne is the only one holding the hummingbird and that the utmost care is taken to do this safely.

Verne Carefully Provides Emily with Adopted Hummingbird for Release

Emily was one of the first people at the Hummingbird Festival to adopt a hummingbird.  In the above image, Verne carefully places the hummer in Emily's hand and instructs her to hold out her hand and open her fingers.  After a few seconds, the hummingbird took flight. 

Rene Silotto Releases her Adopted Hummingbird

In the above image, Rene Silotto released her adopted hummingbird. 

Closeup of Rene's Adopted Hummingbird - Just Before Flying Away

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