Migration Update: May 5, 2010
Please Report
Your Sightings!

Good flying weather sent lots of rubythroats north this past week. Hummer expert, Lanny Chambers reports his first rubythroat 10 days later than average. He tells us his hypothesis about this year's migration pattern. Learn about a vagrant sighting of a rufous in Maine. Play with words to describe baby hummers in the nest. Teachers find some clues for year end assessments.

Today's Report Includes:

Image of the Week

Photo: Dorothy Edgington
Baby hummers: As tiny
as _________?


Highlights, Maps, and Questions

Highlights: Wacky Migration
Our hummingbird expert, Lanny Chambers finally saw his first ruby-throated hummingbird this week. "We finally saw our first yard Ruby-throated this morning, a female. What a wacky migration we're having this year! I'm sure some of you are wondering, as I have, about rubythroats not arriving on schedule. My own first yard sighting (a female) was today (05/02/10), two weeks later than average."

Read about Lanny's theory that migration timing is an individual matter that varies on a bell curve, like many other inherited traits. He will explain the odd, and late timing of first sightings this year.

Why were so many rubythroat sightings reported this past two weeks? Perhaps good flying weather or a high number of observers played a role. More important, most of these mini migrants have left their wintering grounds and are following the instinct to race north and breed. As they do, they find an explosion of blooming plants, hatching insects, and full feeders stretching from border to border — and beyond.

Rufous hummers are moving westward and north this week as they spread out into their range. From Stregis, Montana we hear, "I put my first feeder out last night. This morning I had my first visitors of the year. Good to see them back again!"

  • Ever watched a rufous at a feeder? Here's your chance! This video was sent in by Joan Hoeft of Yakima, Washington. (Teachers: You must have a high speed connection to watch. Video is wmv format; it's viewed with Windows Media Player.)

Even rubythroat "Herman" was late this year. Read about his welcome arrival, along with lots of other citizen scientist reports:

Distribution Map



This Week's Map
Week-by-Week Animation

Handouts: Today's Hummingbird Map Questions
Rufous Questions               Rubythroat Questions

Journal: Nest Pictures Tell a Story

What can you discover when you visit a rufous nest stuffed with two nestlings? Use your observation skills!

Photo: Damon Calderwood
What's Happening Here?

News: Hummer Expert Finally Sees FOS

Last week, our Hummingbird Expert Lanny Chambers finally saw his first of the spring(FOS) rubythroat at his home near St. Louis, Missouri.

Thanks to Lanny for being a good scientist and tracking his first hummingbird arrival for 17 years. Was this hummer right on time? You be the judge!

Photo: Russ Thompson
Extra, Extra, Read All About It

Rufous Hummingbird Sighted in Maine!
On April 30, a citizen scientist in Lamoine, Maine reported a "vagrant sighting" of a rufous hummingbird:

"At 9:30 AM a hummer buzzed my feeder. It WAS a male hummer, but a male rufous. I couldn't believe it at first. The bird returned to the feeder regularly throughout the day. It has not returned since. Although it is sad that this individual fetched up on the Maine coast, I truly enjoyed watching its orange body darting through my garden."

Journal: This hummingbird is certainly out of his summer breeding range. Where did he come from and what will happen next? This could make a great story! Write one in your hummer journal.

  • Read a true story about a rufous hummingbird named "Viola."

Vagrant sighting of a rufous hummer in Maine.
What's a vagrant? It is defined as a "wanderer who has no established residence or visible means of support."

Teachers: The migration is wrapping up in the next few weeks!

What Have We Learned?
Hummingbird Migration Assessment Tools

Year-end Evaluation: Please Share Your Thoughts

Will you take a few minutes to complete our Year-end Evaluation? With your help, we can we document Journey North's reach, impact and value. We need comments like yours to keep the program going and growing.

Tip: Cold Nights and Hummers
When cold nights are expected, I bring my feeders into the house and then put them out again in the morning when the sun is up. That way, the little hummers are not getting an ice cold drink. If you place the feeders on a cookie sheet, they will not leak or mar tables.(Contributed by Ellen Fayer)
Getting Started: This Week's Hummingbird Resources


What's Going On Here?.
More Hummingbird Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Hummingbird Migration Update Will Be Posted on May 12, 2010.