Boreal Partners in Flight CBHBP 10-13
submitted to the
Boreal Partners in Flight Conference, Anchorage, AK, Nov. 14, 2013
Chenega Bay Hummingbird Banding Project
Kate McLaughlin, McLaughlin Environmental Services, Chenega Bay, Alaska
The Native Village of Chenega Bay is located in western Prince William Sound on Evans Island in the North Gulf of Alaska. Western Prince William Sound marks the extreme northern breeding range of the rufous hummingbird, Selasphorus rufus.
There are approximately 335 species of hummingbirds in the New World. Only 17 species of hummingbirds breed in the United States and only one species, the rufous hummingbird, breeds in Alaska. The Chenega Bay Hummingbird Banding Project was established in 2007. This project, the only season-long (May–August) hummingbird banding station in Alaska, has been endeavoring to gather more complete natural history and migration data on this species through capture, mark and release studies.
With the completion of the 2013 banding year, a total of 1,869 birds have been banded with 323 recaptures (birds banded in previous years) since the project’s start. Of those recaptures, only two birds were foreign recaptures (birds banded in another location by another bander). Both of these recaptures were each remarkable in proving the link between southern United States wintering ranges and southcentral Alaska breeding grounds. The exact route taken on seasonal migrations by these birds is still unknown. No birds banded at the Chenega Bay station have been recaptured in other areas as of yet.
On June 29, 2010 an adult female rufous hummingbird was captured in Chenega Bay that had been banded in Tallahassee, Florida in January of that same year. This capture marked the long-distance record of any hummingbird caught on both sides of its migration, in this case a distance of over 3,500 miles. This was the first capture to match Alaska to rufous wintering areas in the southeastern United States. A HY female banded August 2012 in the Fort Davis Mountains, Texas was recaptured in Chenega Bay on July 4, 2013. This meant that the bird was born in Prince William Sound the summer of 2012 and within 45 days of fledging (sometime in July) migrated to south Texas (and perhaps beyond).
Chenega Bay Hummingbird Banding Project Total Capture Chart
The 2007 data does not reflect a full banding year, as the project started during the last half of the breeding season and does not include the spring migration data. The 2012 season was a low banding year due to record snowfall during the winter of 2011/12 when western Prince William Sound experienced over 28’ of snowfall. We believe the heavy and late spring snow that delayed and suppressed the blueberry and salmonberry (important forage plants) bloom contributed significantly to the lower population of rufous hummingbirds in the western part of the Sound that year.
The 2013 banding year was the first year of collaboration with the US Forest Service, Chugach National Forest District. Funding was supplied for a banding event to be held in the eastern side of the Sound in Cordova during the spring migration at the same time banding was occurring in Chenega. The goal was to gather migration data on birds during the first flush of migration into the Sound. The 2013 banding data totals reflect the effort in Cordova. The USFS and I have submitted information on that effort in Cordova in a separate report.
The rate of recapture (total for all years = 17%) demonstrates the strong site fidelity of the species. This project is providing much needed information on rufous hummingbird life history and migration data in southcentral Alaska and the links to wintering grounds throughout the southern United States.
Kate McLaughlin, McLaughlin Environmental Services
PO Box 8043
Chenega Bay, Alaska 99574