Georgia Magazine - August 2020 - 16

Tracking Georgia's

Banding helps researchers map populations, migration
By Helen Newling Lawson

TCPICS

TCPICS

E
Top: The ruby-throated hummingbird is the only species that breeds
in Georgia. On average, a hummingbird's wings beat about 70 times
per second. Above left: Julia Elliot is known at Smith-Gilbert Gardens
as "The Hummingbird Whisperer." Above right: Once a hummingbird
has been banded, scientists can track its movements and lifespan.

16

Georgia Magazine

August 2020

very September, Smith-Gilbert Gardens in Kennesaw
invites the public for a rare opportunity to witness Julia
Elliot in action. As a master hummingbird bander, she is
one of only 150 people in the United States and Canada
licensed to capture the tiny birds to assess their health and band
them for tracking.
Of the 500 or so people who typically come to the event,
just a few children are lucky enough to hold a hummingbird for
a moment before the bird whizzes off to find the next flower.
"When they feel the heat and the heartbeat, you can see
their faces change. That's a magical moment for me," Elliot says.
"They understand it's a living thing."
Elliot gently captures the tiny birds as they feed on flowers in the garden's perennial border. She quickly and carefully
weighs and measures them, notes their gender and makes a few
observations about their plumage and other health indicators.
She submits the data to the Bird Banding Laboratory, a national
repository for information for scientists and researchers. The
information she collects provides vital insights into the health
and migration trends of the ruby-throated hummingbird.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for the community to learn
about hummingbirds, but there's also a lot of science behind it,"
says Ann Parsons, executive director at Smith-Gilbert Gardens.
After one event she received an email that read, "As an
environmental educator, I was impressed by the caliber of this
event."

ISTOCK.COM / JANET GRIFFIN´Ü║SCOTT

hummingbirds



Georgia Magazine - August 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - August 2020

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Georgia Magazine - August 2020 - Contents
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