The hummingbirds’ annual migration has now begun, making this the perfect time to witness hummingbird banding. Hummingbird banding sessions are conducted at two locations in Sierra Vista: the San Pedro House and Fort Huachuca. While the primary purpose for banding sessions is to collect data for scientific research purposes, they blend fun with education, leaving onlookers captivated with the experience.
The Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory conducts the banding sessions at the San Pedro House. The Hummingbird Monitoring Network conducts sessions at Fort Huachuca. Research shows that “up to 10 species of hummingbirds use the green corridor of the San Pedro River as a freeway between their tropical winter retreats and their northern nesting grounds.”
In the United States, there are 23 documented species of hummingbirds, and 17 of those species have been spotted in Sierra Vista. In addition to flying the San Pedro River corridor, hummingbirds migrate through the surrounding mountains and canyons. In fact, a record for the most hummingbird species seen in one day anywhere in the United States – fourteen – was set in 2002 in Miller Canyon just south of Sierra Vista.
Many hummingbirds fly thousands of miles during their twice-yearly migration. They fly solo rather than in flocks like the Sandhill Cranes or geese do. The Rufous hummingbird travels the farthest north of any other hummingbird – to Alaska from Mexico. Research has also shown that hummingbirds are faithful to their favorite rest stops along their route. And clearly, Sierra Vista has been entered into their internal GPS system.
You are invited to get a close-up look at these tiny jewels at either banding location. Please remember that Fort Huachuca is an active military installation and post entrance requirements are in effect.
To actually band the hummingbirds, the researchers must be licensed. However, one of the organizations, the Hummingbird Monitoring Network, is asking for volunteers for netting, recording, and feeder maintenance assistance for the sessions held on Fort Huachuca. Click here for more information on volunteering.
If you can't watch the hummingbird banding in person, it's a shame. But you can see a hummingbird banding video on the Sierra Vista website.
To learn more about Fort Huachuca entrance requirements, get maps and brochures, visit the Sierra Vista Visitor Center in the Oscar Yrun Community Center, 3020 E. Tacoma Street or call 800-288-3861 or 520-417-6960.
Also known as the “Hummingbird Capital of the United States,” Sierra Vista is one of the must-see places in the world for bird watchers and naturalists.
Thanks to Erika Breckel from the Sierra Vista Visitor Center for this information on hummingbird banding.