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Rare hummingbirds showing up at Ohio feeders


Photo courtesy of Marsha Young


A type of hummingbird normally found in the Pacific Northwest and Mexico has been spotted in Ohio.

Several rufous hummingbirds have shown up at feeders at a northeast Columbus park, and one was trapped there Friday using a feeder inside a cage.

"Prior to 2002, only 15 had been sighted in Ohio. In 2003 we had 13," said Peg Hanley of Metro Parks, which operates 14 parks in central Ohio.

Normally, ruby-throated hummingbirds are the ones visiting feeders in Ohio.

Allen Chartier, who holds one of about 60 federal licenses to catch and band hummingbirds, said researchers are trying to figure out why the bird is traveling so far east.

About 10 percent of the birds winter along the Gulf of Mexico and may be stopping in the Midwest, attracted by hummingbird feeders, for a couple of months before moving on.

Researchers still don't know whether the increase in sightings is because of a change in the birds' habits or an increased awareness among bird-watchers.

"Gradually, a picture has emerged showing that (rufous hummingbirds) do wander east," he said. "They've been observed in almost every state in the East."

Chartier put a band on the leg of the bird caught at the park.

"They're 2 millimeters in diameter, about 1.5 millimeters tall -- just tiny little scraps of aluminum a little thicker than tin foil," Chartier said. "Proportionately to the hummingbird, they're probably about the same as my wristwatch to me."

Written on the bands are identification marks that can help track the birds if they are captured later, he said.

"If you find one that's banded, you can connect the dots" where it's been, he said. "But sometimes that answers one question but raises two more."

Eric Albrecht
A rufous hummingbird sits in Bruce Simpson's hand Friday in Columbus before taking flight after being banded by Allen Chartier, of Detroit, who is one of 60 people in the country with a federal license to capture and band hummingbirds. The rufous humming bird has been seen around the Blendon Woods Metro Park in Columbus, far outside natural range which is the Pacific Northwest.



Eric Albrecht
Allen Chartier sets a trap for a rufous hummingbird at Blendon Woods Metro Park in Columbus. The hummingbird, normally found in the Pacific Northwest and Mexico, has been spotted in Ohio. Chartier, who holds one of about 60 federal licenses to catch and band hummingbirds, said researchers are trying to figure out why the bird is traveling so far east.

 


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