Last updated: June 22, 2016
I walked down to the picnic area by Montezuma Castle to help out with some hummingbird banding. We ended up catching nine birds total and five while I was there;that's five more than the last time I helped out! Park ranger Tina Greenawalt was kind enough to let me catch the hummingbirds and even hold them. Once they were trapped in the netted area around the feeder I would go up and stick my arm under the net, being careful not to let the hummingbird escape through the bottom and more importantly being careful not to harm the bird. I then brought it to the table where Tina and a volunteer named Carol wrote down various observations such as Wing span, weight, length of the white part of the tail, amount of fat, and if the bird was breeding. The point of catching the hummingbirds is to keep tabs on the hummingbirds in the area and to better understand migration patterns.
The hummingbirds were very feisty once caught and made squeaking noises. Tina said that these species of hummingbird are the only ones that she's heard squeak. I successfully caught four birds out of the net with my hands, but unfortunately one escaped. I was feeling confident after the first three, so on the forth I was way too aggressive and tried to catch the bird too quickly. I also came at it diagonally when I should have been putting my hand under the bird to keep it from going to the bottom of the net and flying out. It flew out the bottom and got away, but luckily I learned my lesson and was able to catch another after, which made me feel a bit better. At the end of the hummingbird banding session I was spacing out a bit because no hummingbird had landed on my feeder the entire time I was out there; they all landed on park employee Hanna's side. Due to this, I didn't realize that A hummingbird had landed on my feeder until Carol told me. I squeezed the clamp to release the line that made the trap fall down and quickly let go, but didn't realize that I was supposed to hold the clamp down. Since I didn't hold the clamp long enough or take it off, the trap just fell halfway down and the bird easily escaped. I felt pretty dumb, but now I know and I won't let it happen again!
The rest of my day was spent with interpretation. I started off in the visitor center, trying to learn as much as possible from the other park service employees, who were extremely kind and helpful. Then, it was time to go outside and start interpretation on my own. A wonderful park service employee helped me set up a cart full items to spark people's interest, including cochineal bugs paired with a board, and yucca sandals. I was extremely nervous to go out on my own with the fear that I wouldn't be able to answer many questions, but it turned out to be a very fun experience. I was actually able to answer almost every question and I had a great time doing it. I enjoyed meeting people from different places and being able to give whatever information they desired. Everyone I met was super friendly, even though it was insanely hot outside. When I first asked people how they were doing the common answer seemed to be "hot," but they were still happy to be there. I can't wait to work in interpretation again and meet more friendly vacationers!