WARNING! It is against state and federal laws for anyone to capture or possess livig or dead wild migratory birds, including hummingbirds, without permits and proper training. Failure to observe these laws can result in state and federal fines and imprisonment.

Hummingbirds, like most other birds, are captured by authorized researchers in one of two ways: nets and traps. Giant "mist nets"--so-called because they are almost invisible--are strung between poles in areas frequented by hummingbirds; the nets are usually 12m long and 2m high. A hummingbird often fails to see the net and flies into it, becoming entangled and falling softly into the folds of the net. Mist nets are checked frequently by the researcher so that netted birds are not stressed. An experienced bander can remove a hummingbird from a net very quickly and without causing any damage to the bird.


© Bill Hilton Jr.

© Bill Hilton Jr.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) are captured for banding in two main ways, neither of which is detrimental to the bird. The most selective method is a pull-string trap with a swinging or sliding door (above left); the trap contains a sugar water feeder as bait. Birds are allowed to enter and leave the trap until a desired individual can be captured. Mist nets (above right) are like giant hard-to-see hair nets into which hummingbirds fly. Birds are removed quickly from traps and nets so that they do not injure themselves.

Hummingbirds can also be captured in various kinds of traps, usually operated by a pull-string. A feeder is hung in the trap, and when the hummingbird flies in, the bander pulls the string to activate a trapdoor that closes behind the bird. A smaller access door allows the bander to remove the hummingbird.

If several birds are captured in a short span of time, they can be placed temporarily in lingerie bags. The bags' soft mesh restrains the hummingbirds without harming them, but the birds are never held for long periods.

Back to Hummingbird Bands; forward to How Hummingbirds are Banded

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