Hummingbird Migration Update: April 9, 2009

Today's Report Includes:

Please Report
Your Sightings! >>

What's the story behind this scene? >>
Photo: Russ Thompson
The Migration: Highlights, Maps, and Questions

Distribution Map


This Week's Map >>
Week-by-Week Animation >>
Sightings >>


This Week's Map >>
Week-by-Week Animation >>
Sightings >>

Handouts: Today's Hummingbird Map Questions
Rufous Questions >                Rubythroat Questions > 
Loads of rubythroats showed up in just two days. What can we learn from a satellite map? >>
Highlights: Early Rubythroats Rush, Rufous Reach Alaska!
Whoosh! You'd think that ruby-throated hummers were racing the clock. Despite very active weather, cold temperatures, mini-blizzards, and high winds, they made a great leap northward. In two days alone, some determined hummers landed in seven new states! You can compare rubythroat arrival charts from 2008 and 2009 to see which states had extra-early early birds.

While a handful of birds seemed to jump ahead, others continued to fill in south of the migration's leading edge. Watch the week-by-week animation to see how rubythroats are winging their way northward.

With all the talk of harsh weather, some hummingbird watchers are worried: "I wonder how the hummers deal with those freezing temperatures." "It's funny that they chose this cold and dreary spring to be early!" If you're also curious about how hummers get by, read what some experts think:
  • Cold and Wild Weather: How Do Rubythroats Get By? >>
  • Discover what Journey North's citizen scientists shared this week >>

Speaking of rough weather, two rufous males have been reported in Alaska! Are they pushing the northern limit for that species? Look at today's map question handout and decide what you think.

We got word this week from observers
in the South that rubythroats are acting up! "I saw my first two rubythroat males today and they were already fighting." "I saw a male Ruby-throated doing a U dance." What should we make of these antics? Male hummers have strong springtime instincts. This week's slideshow reveals some secrets.

Slideshow: Males on a Mission!

Male hummers heading north have no choice in the matter. They have an overwhelming urge to set up territories, defend food sources, and more. And that's no easy task! Discover why.

  • Slideshow: Make Way for Nesting: A Tale of Territories, Thieves, and Courtship >>

  • Slideshow Handout >>
Journal: A Tale of a Perfect Territory

Once you've watched the slideshow, imagine you're a migrating male hummingbird looking for a good territory. Choose one of the following:

1. Write a "want-ad" that describes what would make an ideal habitat, OR
2. Draw a picture — from a birds-eye view — that shows the important features you're looking for in your territory.

  • Use your Hummingbird Journal to tell the story! >>

This male rubythroat is on the lookout for intruders!
Photo: Laura Erickson
Math Puzzle : How Fast Does the Migration Travel?

Migrating animals travel at very different average rates. A bog turtle might travel just 56 feet in a day, but a monarch butterfly might fly 40 to 100 miles a day! How fast and far do ruby-throated hummingbirds travel?

You be the judge! Use our migration maps to make an estimate. Then use your answer to predict when the migration will reach you, the Canadian border, or another location!

  • Estimating Migration Rate: How Many Miles a Day Do Rubythroats Travel? >>
Expert answers to your hummingbird questions!
You'll find them all here >>
This Week's Hummingbird Resources
  • Activity: Estimating Migration Rate: How Many Miles a Day Do Rubythroats Travel? >>
  • Predict: Where Will They Arrive, and When? Making Predictions >>
  • Slideshow: Make Way for Nesting: A Tale of Territories, Thieves, and Courtship >>
  • Study: Weather and Songbird Migration >>
  • Photo Observation: What's the Story Behind This Scene? >>
  • Video Clip : One Minute with a Hummingbird: What Do You See? >>
  • Hummingbird Migration Journals (click-and-print) >>
More Hummingbird Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Hummingbird Migration Update Will Be Posted on April 16, 2009.