Holding Hummingbirds in Idaho

a woman holding a bird on her hand

The most amazing thing I did last summer was something I didn’t even know was possible. I got to hold a hummingbird in my hand. And if you visit Idaho in the summer, it’s something you can experience as well!a woman holding a bird on her hand

Intermountain Bird Observatory has a hummingbird monitoring and banding site near Idaho City, one of only 24 in the world, and the only one in the Calliope hummingbird breeding range. The site attracts several species of hummingbirds, including one little guy who gets caught every year since they started in 2012!

a person holding a small bird

a person holding a bird

It was a great opportunity to learn more about the birds and get a close up view. Volunteers start showing up at 6, observers can catch the first shuttle at 6:45.

Note: due to limited space and it’s popularity, (free) tickets are required to attend.a group of people standing in a line

How do you even catch a hummingbird? The feeders are shrouded in little mesh tents and when a hummingbird enters to feed, the net is dropped and they’re carefully collected.a bird feeder in a garden

a man holding a net

Researchers then tag, measure, and weigh the beautiful little birds and feed them to restore their strength after the ordeal.

a group of people outside

a woman holding a hummingbird

a bird on a feeder

The last step is where audience participation happens! The ready-to-be-released hummingbird is gently set on a flat palm and a quick puff of breath used to encourage the bird into flight.

a bird in a person's hand

I was pretty timid about blowing too hard — the feeling of that tiny creature in my palm was unlike anything I’d experienced before. And it turns out Idaho is just a magical place in general to visit. Great wine, whitewater rafting, ghost towns, basque food and more!

Full Disclosure: I may receive affiliate credit from links in this post or on this site which will help fund my travels. Thank you for your support!

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