Tracking Hummingbird Interactions at Urban Feeders

Hummingbird in hand
A male Anna’s hummingbird, held by researchers studying hummingbird health. (Don Preisler/UC Davis)

Wildlife veterinarians at the Hummingbird Health and Conservation Program in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine recently published a study describing a new system to track hummingbirds visiting feeders in urban gardens.

Led by Dr. Ruta Rajiv Bandivadekar under the guidance of Professor Lisa A. Tell, the team implanted 230 hummingbirds with tiny RFID tags — think the size of a ladybug — and recorded visits to feeders at three California sites by smartly attaching RFID readers to these feeders. Feeder behavior offers clues about hummingbird health, and disease transmission.

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