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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Hummingbirds giving up secrets to researchers

This undated photo provided by the Intermountain Bird Observatory, Boise State University, shows a female Black-Chinned Hummingbird. The perfecting of placing tiny numbered bands on hummingbirds' legs in the last decade has led researchers to discover the birds can live longer than 10 years as opposed to the two or three once thought likely.  (Liz Urban / Intermountain Bird Observatory)
This undated photo provided by the Intermountain Bird Observatory, Boise State University, shows a female Black-Chinned Hummingbird. The perfecting of placing tiny numbered bands on hummingbirds' legs in the last decade has led researchers to discover the birds can live longer than 10 years as opposed to the two or three once thought likely. (Liz Urban / Intermountain Bird Observatory)

WILDLIFE WATCHING -- As researchers perfect the methods of placing tiny numbered bands on the legs of hummingbirds, the diminutive birds have been revealing new information about their lives.

For instance:

  • Hummingbirds can live longer than 10 years as opposed to the two or three once thought likely.
  • Astonishing migrations have been found, with one bird caught in Florida showing up a few months later and more than 3,500 miles away in Alaska.

About 225 hummingbird banders work in the United States. The skill is unique, requiring years of apprenticeship.

Their steady stream of capture and recapture data is offering new insights into what for many is a delightful backyard visitor with an overabundance of personality.



Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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