Hummingbird Banding

Hummingbird capture techniques

A number of techniques are used to capture hummingbirds for banding.  One method, used most often at individual homes, is the drop-door cage trap (Figure 1).  This is an 18-inch square wire cage with a trap door on the front that is held up and released remotely with a fishing line.  The object is to place the feeder inside the trap, preferably as close to where the homeowner has placed it, in order to lure the birds inside.  Feeders with perches are ideal for this type of trap.

Figure 1.  Drop-door cage trap.

Another trapping method, often used at sites where large numbers of hummingbirds are congregating or migrating, is the Russell Trap (Figure 2).  This is a setup of mist nets (fine nets used to catch many birds which only licensed bird banders are allowed to possess) surrounding a close grouping of hummingbird feeders.  The net surrounds three sides of the feeders, and a net is placed on top as well.  This gives the birds access to the feeders from only one side, where the bander can essentially herd the hummingbirds into the surrounding nets at will.

Figure 2.  Russell Trap.

Once trapped, the birds are gently placed into holding bags (Figure 3) for a few minutes until they can be banded.  These holding bags gently hold the bird still, and also allow the bander to keep a watch on their condition while other birds are being banded.

Figure 3.  Ruby-throated Hummingbird in a holding bag.