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Banding a Hummingbird

It is very difficult to assess lifespan in hummingbirds, since the only real way to tell how long they live in the wild is to band a recently fledged bird and capture them again.  The oldest recorded wild hummingbird was a female Broad-Tailed Hummingbird.  She was banded at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, Colorado in 1976 and recaptured there in 1987, 12 years and 2 months later!  She was thought to be at least a year old when she was banded.  A Black-Chinned hummingbird was banded and recaptured 10 years later in Arizona, and a banded Ruby-Throat was aged at 6 years and 11 months.  The oldest banded Rufous was 8 years 1 month.  

That lifespan is thought to be rare in the wild, where ornithologists feel that most hummingbirds that do not die in the first year of life have an average lifespan of 3 to 4 years.    A hummingbird cared for in an aviary under ideal conditions with good nutrition is thought to be able to live 12 years.


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