One of the favorite events at the New River Gorge Birding and Nature Festival is the banding demonstration, held on both Monday for the full week group and those doing the first half of the week, and on Thursday for those coming in for the second half of the week. These days are designated as "Birding by Butt," but plenty of us stood on our tiptoes to see this handsome Brown Thrasher displayed by bander Bill Hilton.
Mist nets are set up to catch whatever birds happen by. Here, a Tufted Titmouse thinks evil thoughts while receiving its band.
Notorious biters, everyone groans when a Northern Cardinal becomes ensnared. It takes a minimum of two grown men to extract one cardinal from the mist net.
Bill's special passion is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, as he let us all know by his T-shirt.
While many people are licensed to band birds, relatively few are allowed to handle hummingbirds, which are so small they can't manufacture bands for them. The bander has to hand-make each piece of hummingbird bling, and sometimes has to create homemade tools to help him get the job done.
A hummingbird waits its turn in a tube made of a rolled-up 3"x5" card. To take measurements, you slide the appropriate part of the hummer out of the tube.
Measuring the wing length of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird.
Banded hummingbirds are paid for their appearances with a nice long drink of nectar.
A banded hummingbird rests in the palm of a hand before taking off to continue his daily business.
No hummingbirds were harmed in this process.
So, if you weren't hooked on the New River Birding Festival already, here is one more reason to attend.