Banding Calliope Hummingbirds in Idaho

by Bryce W. Robinson


Palm release of a male Calliope Hummingbird – Selasphorus calliope

Last week I was fortunate to join my friends Jessica Pollock and Heidi Ware of the Intermountain Bird Observatory for some hummingbird banding near Idaho City, Idaho. The banding location is located in the mountains of central Idaho, consisting of healthy Ponderosa Pine forests complete with associated bird life.


Last week was a bit early in the season, but we did have some luck catching Calliope Hummingbirds. We caught 7 birds, all males. Catching only males also indicates the early season, as in most species males are tasked with setting up territories before the arrival of females and are thus the first to arrive. The banding seemed to tell this story. Unfortunately the Rufous Hummingbirds weren’t around yet, but capturing a number of North America’s smallest bird was more than enough to satisfy my desire to see hummingbirds in hand.



Weighing a male Calliope Hummingbird.

The whole day was excellent, but the perhaps the most exciting part of the day came with a recapture of a bird that has been captured every year for the past five years. It’s remarkable to hold proof of the resilience and livelihood of such a small and well travelled animal.

To find out more about IBO’s hummingbird work, please visit their website and get involved.