Migration Update: June 2, 2010
Please Report
Your Sightings!

Celebrate the story of Sweet Pea in this week's slideshow. Find out about banding little hummers and what we can learn from this technique. How will the Gulf of Mexico oil spill affect the migration? And share your thoughts about the little migrants that reach the northern-most part of the breeding grounds.

Today's Report Includes:

Image of the Week

Photo: Rachel Powless
What's strange about this female rubythroat?

Highlights, Maps, and Questions

Spotters continue to report their first sightings of hummingbirds as we move into the first week of June. In the northern reaches of the ruby-throated hummer's range the end of a cold, wet May has brought the reward of a first of the year sighting to many. Our hummingbird expert reports this year has been different with fewer sightings than average.

Fewer Hummers Arriving at Feeders in Arkansas
Marie wrote to Journey North,
"We are in rural North Central Arkansas and normally have 30 to 40 Hummingbirds feeding at our home. This year, we have 2. Nothing has changed in our area to affect nesting, so we can't understand why they have not arrived in the numbers they usually do."

Lanny Chambers has been seeing the same pattern in Missouri. "I don't understand this either," he said. "Arkansas had a snow storm in early April that may have affected the migration. Wait and see how the season develops," was Lanny's response.

Northern Sightings Continue
Although many sightings are coming in from the northern range of the rubythroat, reporters have needed patience this spring. The hummers are late arriving in some locations.

May 21: Clive, Manitoba
Saw 1 male at feeder—poor guy. Zero C at night and rainy May 21-23. Turned warmer by May 24. During week of May 24 - 28 a pair were seem regularly at the feeders. Today snow and have seen one at feeder for a second. I'm trying to replace syrup with room temperature syrup about twice a day. Hope it help!

May 30: Springfield, Virginia
First year with feeders. I am so excited to actually see one.

May 29: Linwood, New Jersey
Saturday 5/29/10 at 1:09pm, a hummingbird came to the feeder in my backyard. It was very late this year for the hummingbirds to arrive. Last year they were earlier Why?

May 28: Sterling Heights, Michigan
Went out back to dump feeders and noted about 50 ft. away My first male Ruby Throat (we've been ready since April 15) He stayed about 4 minutes and did feed from the small feeder in the wild tree. Oh Joy!

Distribution Map



This Week's Map
Week-by-Week Animation

Handouts: Today's Hummingbird Map Questions

Journal: Long Distance Rubythroats?

In the last month, lots of ruby-throated hummingbirds have been spotted north of the Canadian border. When do you think those birds left their winter grounds? How did they travel? Think about these possibilities:

1. The "northern" rubythroats left earlier than the ones that breed farther south (closer to wintering grounds).

2. They left later than the others, arriving in Canada when northern flowers bloomed and insects hatched.

3. They left at the same time as the rest of the hummers. They kept heading north as others settled down farther south.

On this hummingbird journal page, write down which of these options you think is most likely. Explain why you made your choice. What clues from this year helped you out?

There is no one right answer that applies to every hummer!
Next week we'll tell you what some bird experts think.

The maps show us how the large migration moves. But what about individual hummers?

Nest Sightings and Patience

Now that mating and nesting season are upon us take some time to watch the bird activity in your area. Bird behavior changes when the adult must build a nest and care for young chicks.

Often your patient observations will be rewarded. This hummingbird nest is barely the size of a quarter.

Photo: Ed Robertson
Hummingbird Migration and the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Although we do not know what wide ranging effects the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will have on migrating birds, our expert Lanny Chambers pitched in to answer a couple questions weighing heavily on the hearts and minds of Journey North participants.

"Will the oil spill affect the fall hummingbird migration to their wintering grounds? Will the birds smell the oil and avoid the trip over the Gulf of Mexico?"

Lanny wrote, "Like all North American birds except turkey vultures, hummingbirds have almost no sense of smell. I can't imagine the oil would make any difference at all."

Fall Migration: Do Ruby-throated Hummers Cross the Gulf in Fall?
"While there's plenty of evidence that some Ruby-throated cross the Gulf in the spring, there's no such evidence for a fall crossing. A couple of years ago, I banded a young male here in St. Louis in late summer, and it was recaptured by another bander in east Texas two weeks later. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if we learn some day that our Midwestern hummers use the land route in both directions."

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.

More Hummingbird Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The NextHummingbird Migration Update Will Be Posted on June 9, 2010.