Migration Update: March 2, 2011
Please Report
Your Sightings!

Just like clockwork, last week the first migrating ruby-throated hummingbirds showed up on US soil. How can spotters distinguish a new migrant from a winter resident? How did they get here? When is the wind just right for a successful migration? Let's dig into these questions and more in this week's slideshow.

Today's Report Includes:

Image of the Week
by land or by sea?
Photo: Russ Thompson

By Land, or By Sea?

Highlights, Maps, and Questions

Highlights: First Hummers Arrive in the Gulf Coast
Just like clockwork, last week the first migrating ruby-throated hummingbirds showed up in Texas and Florida. Citizen scientists with their feeders ready were rewarded with their first hungry visitors. How do spotters know that these birds are fresh migrants?
Let's read what one spotter wrote:

Meret Wilson in Ormond Beach, Florida had her very first hummingbird arrive the morning of February 28. A hummingbird expert, Meret wrote, "How do I know it is new (a fresh migrant)? It sat on the perch of the feeder which only my overwintering male hummingbird does. This one is tired and hungry. I am sure she appreciated the perch."

Imagine this tiny bird crossing the Gulf of Mexico. Here is the wind map from the morning of February 28. We can see that the winds were favorable for helping the hummers cross the Gulf.

Will more migrants be arriving? Take a minute to track the weather forecast with these wind maps. According to the maps, what day will winds shift to the south? Take a look:

wind map
Wind map - Monday morning

More sighting reports tell us a lot about hummingbird behavior. Anna's hummers are winter residents in many western areas. How do they survive the winter's cold temperatures? Read what citizen scientists share:

Rufous hummingbird migration map


Ruby-throated hummingbird migration map
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

Ruby-throated hummingbird migration map
All Other Hummingbird Species

Explore: An Amazing Rubythroat Journey!

As ruby-throated hummingbirds enter the United States from their wintering grounds, they usually appear first in the Gulf coast states. How do you think they get there?

For a long time, scientists wondered about the route the hummingbirds traveled. Could these tiny creatures fly the 500 miles over the Gulf of Mexico with no food or rest? It hardly seemed possible. Find out more!

Journal: How Long to Cross the Gulf of Mexico?

Ruby-throated hummingbirds can fly 500 miles non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico. They typically fly about 25 miles per hour during migration. How long does the trip take?

Explore how wind speed and direction can affect flight times:

Journal Page
Getting Started: This Week's Hummingbird Resources
can you find the hummer?
Can you find the hummingbird in this crab apple tree?
Look Closely
More Hummingbird Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Hummingbird Migration Update Will Be Posted on March 9, 2011.