Monday, December 12, 2011

That's Not A Baby?

Well I can't believe it's been two months since I blogged. Where does the time go? I've got plenty of blogging to do, just have to find the time to do it.

I will kick it off with Fred Bassett.
If you don't know Fred, or have never heard of him....then you should.

This is Fred. Fred is a certified master bird bander. That's right....MASTER. Now, I'm not sure what one has to do to become a certified master bird bander....I mean isn't a certified bird bander good enough? Nope, Fred had to go and MASTER that. And believe me....he has mastered it.

Fred travels all over the country and bands birds (or did you already figure that out?). Especially hummingbirds. He is one of the three bird banders at Hummingbird Research, Inc. (and the only MASTER might I note). I think I will refer to him as Master Fred from here on out....seems fitting and he would probably get a kick out of that.

The Hydrangea Queen (not to be confused with my mom who is the Dirt Queen), subscribes to Master Fred's hummingbirds emails. She had been seeing some hummers around and weren't sure what they were, so she emailed Master Fred. Master Fred ( I just like saying that...or typing it LOL), came last Thursday to band the Hydrangea Queens hummer.

Now, if your like me (and everyone I discussed this with) I could not for the LIFE of me figure out how one would band a hummingbird. This I had to see.


Master Fred set out a table with a cage on it. He used one of the Hydrangea Queen's feeders, and hung inside the cage. Master Fred also had a reel (as in rod and reel) with fishing line attached to it. He held the door open with the fishing line from across the yard. We all looked at him like he was crazy, but then we figured he had probably done this a few more times than us. Master Fred said  that it may take a while for a hummer to come, if one came at all. Master Fred also informed us that they feed by sight only, and not by smell. They have no sense of smell.

So we all mosied back into the house to drink coffee, stand by fire place and wait. We didn't wait long.

In less than 10 minutes, this lil' fella made his way into the cage. Now, I am not a hummingbird expert (like Master Fred). The only bird I am an expert at is turkeys, but that's only in killing them....not catching them. So me being an un-expert thought this was a baby hummingbird. Nope.....

It's a Calliope. Again, being the un-expert, when Master Fred exclaimed it was a Calliope we all chimed in and said, "Oooh Calliope", like we remotely new anything about them. We didn't.
(BTW Master Fred said to apologize for his dirty hands, he had to change a tire prior to arriving...I don't think banding birds is THAT dirty of a job).

He explained to us that Calliope's are a mountain bird. We live NO where remotely close to the mountains. In the summer, the Calliope calls the mountains of Montana and Wyoming home. It then migrates to Mexico during the winter. Apparently it makes a pit stop in Satsuma, Alabama.

Master Fred had all sorts of certified master tools that one of his caliber would. A tacklebox full of instruments that I had no clue what they were. A chart with all sorts of writing that I didn't know what it was. Hot pink puff paint and panty hose. Now, that struck my interest and I had to ask!

He put little Flitter ( that's what the Hydrangea Queen's granddaughter named the hummer) in this bag. He was just as calm as could be.

Flitters little beak stuck out of the bag

Master Fred showed us the ring with all the bands on it. This picture isn't good....things were happening really quick. When you have a hummer in a bag, you have to move quick. Actually all of this happened within 10 minutes. Anyway...getting off subject....Master Fred told us there were over 80 bands on that ring!!! 

This is the actual band that would be put on Flitter. See where the saying "bird legs" came from!!

He then uses these pliers to put the band on the bird. Master Fred said that the band would never be tight on the leg, even when the hummer was full grown.

Here's the chart with all the info on it

Master Fred took Flitter out of the bag to check him out...

He informed us that Flitter was a young juvenile male. This is where the MASTER part comes in......if you can look at a juvenile hummingbird and tell what the sex of it is....then you're pretty good.

Then he pulled out the panty hose!!! He put Flitter in the panty hose to weigh him and keep him "tied" up while he banded him. I was more than willing to help him hold Flitter so he could band him, but he said he had it LOL. Then I blinked, and the band was on his leg

Can you see the little band on his leg?

How about from here?

Master Fred measured his tiny little body

Looked at  him through an eyeglass

He weighed 2.9oz! Master Fred informed us that we could stuff 18 Flitter's into a standard envelope and mail them for 42 cents. That's how light he was :-). sweet
Then we stepped out into the sunlight to look at Flitter's beautiful colors to see what made him a Calliope.

Master Fred then held Flitter and let all of us feel his tiny little heart flutter. If you have never felt a hummingbirds is absolutely amazing. Amazing on so many levels. Amazing that God could create something so delicate, tiny and beautiful with the heartbeat of a giant. It was really something to experience and feel.

Master Fred let the Hydrangea Queen take a photo with Flitter. Doesn't she look proud :-)

He then set Flitter in the palm of her hand. Now I took this on continuous shot on my camera. My camera takes 3.4 frames per second. And that's about what I got before Flitter flitted away. That was pretty cool. It was like he was in a trance for a few seconds. I feel lucky that I got to get a few shots before he flew.

I did get some blurry ones when he did begin to fly away...but they aren't as exciting. Had I not been so amazed at his tiny heartbeat, I would have put my camera on action and got some really cool shots.

Master Fred and Hydrangea Queen posing for a photo.

Master Fred emailed her these photos. So I decided to use his shots, as they were much better than the ones I took standing next to him.

If you look carefully you can see hot pink irridescent spots on him. As he gets older these spots will become more prominent. Kinda like this....

Isn't he gorgeous

I have been witness to some amazing things in my life, but this goes on the top of my list. That may sound crazy to some of ya'll.....but this was something to see. Master Fred is a lucky man, he gets to see this everyday. Master Fred was also a great sport! You see, there were 4 women there to witness this event, and the Hydrangea Queen's husband...Vern (you like that? huh Vern). Vern informed Master Fred we were his four wives. So when Master Fred emailed the Hydrangea Queen the photos, he said, "it was great to meet ya'll and the other wives." LOL!!!!!

I can assure you Master Fred probably never had an audience quite like us.

Oh, and that hot pink puff paint was for the birds!!! The not so rare (birds like ruby throated hummers get a dot of hot pink paint so he doesn't catch them again. Our little Flitter didn't get any paint :-)

If you get some spare time, check out Master Fred's website at 

Well I thought that was pretty dang exciting! Hope ya'll did too!

Tomorrow we will check out some Christmas decorations...not as exciting....but it will have to do!


Anna/Flowergardengirl said...

Just about the coolest thing ever. I loved it. Amazing how small the ring is and even more amazing how much info is stored there. Excellent article. Was just so enjoyable. Thank you

Nezzy said...

Oh my goodness glory!! This was just amazin' sweetie.

I just love the little birds and feed about ten pounds of sugar a week durin' the summertime but never knew what went into bandin' the little guys.

Such a tiny band would take an extremely 'steady' hand.

Thanks for introducin' us to Master Fred (and his harem) Heeehehehe!!!

God bless and have yourself a most beautiful day sweetie!!!

BTW: place...I'll leave the door open! :o)

Becca's Dirt said...

Oh my what a sweet thing to witness April and to feel the heartbeat too. Awesome. They are so small and that band. Master Fred is a lucky man.

Ginger said...

This is so fascinating!! Thanks for sharing.

I think "Master Fred" (the name) is hilarious too. Masta P reference I guess :)

Anonymous said...

Not that it really matters, but I suspect Flitter actually weighed 2.9 grams and not ounces. When weighing something so tiny grams are much more precise.

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