Waiting for News...
We're watching our migration map, hoping to hear when hummingbirds have arrived safely on the wintering grounds. This range map shows where the ruby-throated hummingbird's two homes are located.
The End of the Trail
The first ruby-throats should be reaching Costa Rica right now, at the far end of the wintering range (see map). Mid- to late October is their normal arrival time there, according to records kept at La Selva Biological Station.
A hummingbird that migrates from Quebec to Costa Rica would travel 3,500 miles! This map shows that sample distance. You can use Google maps to estimate how far a hummingbird must travel from your hometown to reach its winter home.
One of 19 Species
The ruby-throated hummer is only one of the 19 hummingbird species found in Costa Rica. It is the only one that migrates. Such species-diversity is astonishing in a country so small; Costa Rica is about the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined.
Going, going....and almost gone!
As the animated migration map shows, hummers are few and far between in the north now that it's mid-October.
"First sighting in two weeks!" Asheville, NC
"Had not seen any in 5 days." Greencastle, IN
"A month ago, we had hundreds and probably close to a thousand. I estimate 40 - 50 are still hanging around." Kingwood, TX
Warm Fall, Late Sightings
Although numbers are dwindling, 392 people reported hummingbirds this week. Also, unusually warm temperatures this fall seem related to some record-breaking late sightings. According to Dr. Fred Helleiner's weekly bird report from Ontario, as of October 13:
"The record late-date for ruby-throated hummingbird at Presqu'ile was broken twice in the past week, the first time on October 8 and then again on October 11."
Dirty Feeder Dangers
JN participant Deborah Repasz sent a picture to remind us why a clean feeder with fresh nectar is so important:
"The juvenile male had mold on its chin, perhaps from a dirty feeder. I wish everyone would keep the feeders clean! The mold is a big problem for hummingbirds. If the mold gets wrapped around the hummingbird's bill, it cannot open its bill and, thus, starves to death. A few years ago, a hummer was caught in Rockport, TX with mold wrapped around its bill. It was very weak. The bird bander cleaned the bill off so it could open and be able to get its tongue out to lap up the nectar and get stronger."
Thanks to everyone for sharing their first-hand, backyard observations of North America's tiniest migratory birds! Please continue to tell us what you see.