Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Jewel in the Hand

I decided to take a stroll around the net lanes to take photos that represented the area as is was that morning. Talk is that there might be a prescribed burn at some point to maintain the scrub environment and I want to have a before/after set of shots if it does happen.

The action was slowing down for the morning so I figured it would be an uneventful walk but at least I could get the series of photos done if the fire was set when I wasn't there.

I was pleasently surprised to find a bird in net 14. From a distace it could have been a migrating Warbler. Once I got closer, however, it was something even more exciting. A Ruby-throated Hummingbird!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

There have been several caught in the nets in the last few weeks but I was not fortunate enough to be around when they flew in. A year and a half ago there was one in a net right near me while I was extracting another bird nearby. By the time I made my way to the Hummingbird it was partially through the net and was able to have its wings free enough to assume a kind of proper flight.

As I was reaching for the bird it powered itself at full speed, pulling the net taught and managed to pull free just before I could close the net around it. It was a sight I will never forget.

Now I had another in the net but this time she was perfectly aligned in in the folds so she could not get through the small openings of the mesh.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Since this was the first Hummingbird I had ever held it was a little difficult to figure out a proper grip. You can't grab them by the legs like other land birds. They are too small to hold without injuring them. Even if you can find their legs through the feathers!

But I did manage an awkward series of positions. At one point it even stuck its tongue out at me. "You shall never take me alive!"

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

I took it to a spot where it hopefully would not re-enter another net on release and let it go. With a slight buzzing sound of its wings it flew off back into the oak scrub and we wrapped up another morning at Wekiva.

Now we have a couple of weeks off. Time enough to rest up before the onslaught of Fall migration.

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