Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Round 'Em Up!

"Drawing makes you see things clearer, and clearer and clearer still, until your eyes ache."
                                                                                                                      - David Hockney

Male broad-tailed hummingbird glistens in the morning sun.

You may be familiar with the idea of a cattle roundup, but a hummingbird roundup might be a more unusual concept. Every spring a hearty group of volunteers captures and bands migrating hummers at a ranch tucked away in the mountains. For one day, they invite the public to come and observe, ask questions, and maybe even hold a hummingbird.

The beautiful setting for the Roundup

I have never seen so many hummingbirds buzzing about in one place. Four species are found in this one area; broad-tailed, black-chinned, rufous and calliope. In a typical roundup, the volunteers examine an average of 600 hummers.

Feeders are placed inside of cages to capture the hummers.

Trained volunteers measure and weight these tiny birds. 

If a hummer doesn't already have a leg band, they are given one.

After their physicals the hummers are marked with a spot of temporary paint so they aren't captured again,
then they are released. It often takes them a moment to get their bearings before zipping off.
A sketch from my notebook. 

By using binoculars and patience, I was able to sketch the activity at a hummingbird feeder. The hummers are so quick that I couldn't draw individuals. Each time a different hummer would visit the feeder in the same position as a previous one, I could add a little more to my drawing. I still have the  wrist brace, but despite it being cumbersome I didn't want to miss this opportunity to observe and sketch on this amazing day.