Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Are You Seeing Hummingbirds?

The chatter on some of the birding listserves I belong to has had a lot of focus lately on the question of where are all the hummingbirds? Of course, we're talking about Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Archilochus colubris, here in the eastern part of the country. I'm sure there are more being seen in their usual haunts out west (let me know if I'm wrong!). We had an unusual spring migration here in the midwest with late migrants and species showing up in out of range places. So the question is, Do you feel you're seeing hummingbirds in their usual numbers and places? Movement south will be starting soon for this group and I'm keeping my eyes on the garden flowers to see if I have any visitors.

As a side note, fall is the time to be especially cautious when looking at hummingbirds. We seem to see vagrants every year. For some reason Wisconsin has had a few spectacular vagrants in the recent past. Keep your eyes open!

The above picture is today's quiz. Can you put this bird into it's proper taxonomic group just from the photo? This isn't a characteristic that is often seen in the field.


Zoe Ann Hinds said...

The National Audubon Society has noted that the overall hummingbird population has been in a state of decline since 1996. According to the National Audubon Society, there are many possible reasons for this including the following: habitat loss, pesticides, and changes in weather conditions and, in the Mexican wintering range, a susceptibility to natural disasters, diseases and changes in land use.

It is possible there is a lack of food for the hummingbirds to eat at critical times such as when they first arrive from migration. Colder or more severe weather, such as global warming, could be causing delays in the flowering of their nectar sources or even be causing a delay in insect emergence when they need it, they may not survive. Also the food supply and flowers in the wild may be far more abundant, and this may explain why the hummingbirds do not come to feeders where they can be seen and counted by people. Or, their reproductive success rate, due to lack of food when the young are in the nest or other factors, is declining.

In southeast Texas, I have noticed a decrease in the number of hummingbirds ever since this area experienced Hurricane Rita in 2005. This may have been caused changes in our local weather patterns or by damages to the hummingbird’s habitat. Also, many people in this area may have stopped putting out hummingbird feeders or they may have decreased the number of feeders which they put out. Hummingbirds are creatures of habit and have excellent memories, so they may not be visiting this area in the same volume as before the hurricane because they know the nectar supply is less plentiful.

There is no way to be certain as to the exact causes why the hummingbird population seems to be in a state of decline. Here are some suggestions that you can use to help the hummingbird in the short term.

It is vitally important that you keep your hummingbird feeders clean and free of mold and bacteria, which can be very harmful to hummingbirds. The best way to ensure this is to clean your hummingbird feeders every 2 -3 days in hot weather! Also, you need to plant hummingbird flowers that bloom at different times so there are ample wild nectar resources from early spring to fall. Lastly, it is important that we all help to conserve land so hummingbirds continue to have places to nest.

I have been learning about and developing articles on the subject of hummingbirds for athe past year or or so. I opperate two websites on the subject of hummingbirds. If you would like much more information about hummingbirds, please click the links below. The sites contain many articles about hummingbirds, video clips about hummingbirds, an informative tips booklet on hummingbirds, and much more.

Click Here To Visit About Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds For Mom

RAfa said...

Hey, is that a thrush??

Anonymous said...

It's a thrush I'm guessing Veery due to the color