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How Many Cardinals?

Originally published in Volume 47, Number 6 (June 2001) of the San Antonio Audubon Society newsletter.

How many Northern Cardinals are in your yard? 2,4,6,8! From May 2000 to May 2001 I had well over 100 Northern Cardinals in my yard. You ask, how do I know this? Am I counting the same ones over and over? In May of 2000, I started banding birds on a regular basis in my yard here in Corpus Christi. To date, I have banded 100 Northern Cardinal. And it's surprising that I still look out window and see unbanded Northern Cardinals.

I have heard John Tveten said that when he started banding, his pair of Northern Cardinals that he had in his yard turned out to be twenty something (if I remember correctly), but I was never expecting over 100 to be feeding on my sunflower seeds. I have also banded a surprising 85 Inca Doves and 10 White-tipped Doves.

I wouldn't believe it, if I wasn't running low on bands for Buff-bellied Hummingbirds. I have banded 83 Buff-bellied Hummingbirds. Of these, 39 were caught in April 2001 and as to date, 21 were caught in May 2001. That leaves 23 Buff-bellied Hummingbirds I banded in the other ten months. I have had 15 recaptures on Buff-bellied Hummingbirds, all but one of these were banded by me during this time frame. The only Buff-bellied Hummingbird that I caught that I didn't band myself was a bird that Dr. Brent Ortego banded back in 1997 as an after-hatch year bird, making this bird at least 5 years old. It's amazing what we can still learn about birds through banding.

During this time I have caught 90 species birds in the yard and banded 1891 birds. I have recaptured 230 of my own banded birds. So don't think you have the same pair of Cardinals, or Mockingbirds, or Inca Doves in your yard, you just might have 100's or 1000's of them.

Glenn Swartz, Corpus Christi, Texas

P.S. For some of you who don't know who I am, you might have been to my house to see "our" birds in the past years. If you've ever been to Jimmy and Pat Swartz's house on the Nueces River in Corpus Christi, then youšve seen my yard.


How Many Hummers?

Originally published in Volume 47, Number 8 (August 2001) of the San Antonio Audubon Society newsletter.

David J. Bryant asked: "If I fill 4 feeders a day, could I be feeding 40 hummingbirds even though I only see about 12 at a time?"

Glenn Swartz answers: "Very easily! Having both banded and helped with banding hummingbirds myself over the past seven years, there have been many times when a lot more hummingbirds were caught in one day of banding than the small number of hummingbirds which were thought to be around.

The very first time we banded hummingbirds at the house, I told the bander on the other end of the phone, who lived 100 miles away, we had only 10 to 15 hummers coming in to the feeders. He said "we'll see" and showed up the next morning. He started banding hummers at about 7 AM and by 9 AM he closed up the traps because he was out of bands. By then he had banded 50 hummers. The hummers banded that day were also color marked and that evening, during the last of the days feeding rush at the feeders, we still had 10 to 15 hummers swarming around the feeders but saw only three color marked hummingbirds.

I now tell people if they see x number of hummingbirds at their feeders all day long, they could have 4 to 6 times as many.

Now having read this post, go out and stock up on sugar and hummingbird feeders. The fall migration of Ruby-throated Hummingbird is only a few weeks away!"

Glenn Swartz, Corpus Christi, Nueces Co., Texas


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