Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Hummer House

We lived and worked for several years in the 1990s in Ozona, a small town about 80 miles southwest of San Angelo. That is how we came to know Angelo. While there, we met the Floyds, Charles and Nancy. Charles was a campus principal, and Nancy was a classroom teacher. When we retired to San Angelo, we discovered that they were retired and living here. Since retiring, first Charles and then Nancy became involved with banding hummingbirds. Today, they travel around the state banding the little hummers. Last year or so, they moved to the Davis Mountains, so we don't see much of them anymore. But they still come to the area from time to time to do banding. We were able to sit in on one of their sessions this past Saturday. It was extremely interesting.

When in this area, the Floyds work with hummingbirds at The Hummer House in Christoval, a small community on US 277 about 20 miles south of Angelo. The Hummer House is located on a private ranch a couple of miles southeast of Christoval on the South Concho River (See "Backroads Tour: Mertzon, Eldorado, Christoval, and Knickerbocker" from March 2017 for some pictures of the South Concho River).

I'll not try to act like an authority on hummingbirds or other birds. Follow the link above to the Hummer House website for accurate information. But I will share some of the pictures I took during our visit. By the way, work is not limited to only hummingbirds.

The first picture below shows Charles holding a small bird -- a young and/or female painted bunting, I believe -- and sharing some of his vast knowledge of birds. His wife Nancy is behind him banding a bird. The lady to Nancy's right is cataloging the data Nancy is collecting. The banding process includes gathering data about weight, size, sex, and approximate age, among other things.

Charles Floyd in action

Unknown bander measuring a hummingbird.

After birds have been banded, they are then released. Nancy and Charles brought the birds to various visitors, especially children, and allowed them to release the birds. Most of the hummingbirds would sit calmly in the palms of their holders. Some had to be encouraged to fly away. Other species seemed very eager to leave.
This is Nancy holding, I believe, a lesser goldfinch.

The next few pictures show a beautiful mature painted bunting.

Charles displaying a beautiful mature male painted bunting.

This angle better shows the yellow on the bird's back.

Both of these birds are painted buntings, and both are male. The difference is age. The bird on left is a very young male, while the one on the right is about 6 years old.

And here's one final angle to compare the young and old. This is a truly beautiful bird.

This is one device used to collect birds. This is a wire cage surrounding a hummingbird feeder. There is a small opening on the left. The birds get in easily enough, but have more trouble getting out.

This man is waiting to collect some birds from the hummingbird feeder next to the house. He is holding several small yellow mesh bags in his left hand. Each bird goes in to a bag to hold it until data is collected and a band placed on its leg.

It was a fun day. Charles made 2 trips to the river to collect birds trapped there in nets. Several visitors went along each time. I would like to have gone, but there simply was not enough room in his truck. There were quite a few visitors for this session. Nancy would press a small hummingbird against our ears so that we could listen to its rapid heartbeat.

If you enjoy birds, this is something worth investigating. Perhaps you can find some sessions somewhere near where you live.

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