Investigation into Family Relationships Among Broad-tailed Hummingbirds Using Molecular Genetic Techniques

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A Broad-tailed Hummingbird. USGS Gallery photo.
A Broad-tailed Hummingbird. USGS Gallery photo.

The Broad-tailed Hummingbird breeds at high elevation and has been studied for many years in Rocky Mountain National Park. Previous observations and circumstantial evidence led to the hypothesis that adult female Broad-tailed Hummingbirds remain with recently fledged young for weeks or longer after fledging and that some females captured and banded in close time proximity and then returning in later years to be captured again in close time proximity might be related (i.e., mother and daughter). To investigate this hypothesis, we are testing 37 sets of individuals. Within those sets, only five represented cases where individuals are related as full or half siblings.