Tracking Hummingbird Migration
The return of the first ruby-throated hummingbird is one of the most highly anticipated spring events in eastern North America. Although a few of these winged gems spend the winter months in parts of the southern United States, the vast majority winter in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Each year the hummingbirds travel remarkable distances between their wintering grounds and their summer breeding areas, which span from the Gulf of Mexico to southern Canada.
The first ruby-throats typically reach the Gulf Coast in late February or early March, often making a nonstop 18- to 20-hour flight across the Gulf of Mexico. The birds move northward from there, relying heavily on the emergence of spring flowers as they make their way up through the United States. By early May, most of the Canada-bound hummingbirds have reached their destination, and most of the eastern two-thirds of North America is populated by ruby-throated hummingbirds.
Keeping track of the northward progression of these birds can help create an interesting picture of migration patterns. Lanny Chambers of St. Louis, Missouri, has been doing exactly that since 1997. By collecting thousands of reports each year from volunteer observers across North America, Chambers has constructed nearly real-time maps of when and where hummingbirds are showing up across the continent. Visit hummingbirds.net/map.html to view the maps, and consider contributing your own observations to this project.
About Kyle Carlsen
What do you think? Tell us!comments powered by Disqus
New On This Site
- Grabbing Grackles: A Short Story by Al Batt added on Oct 24, 2014
- Is There a Screech-Owl In Your Neighborhood? added on Oct 17, 2014
- Shadow and Reflection added in the gallery by macrogears on Oct 11, 2014
- Don't Throw Away Your Pumpkin Seeds! added on Oct 2, 2014
- Whatcha doin up there? added in the gallery by Sandi Long on Sep 27, 2014
- Wren on the Hunt added in the gallery by Bret Goddard on Sep 24, 2014