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Migration Update: March 28, 2012
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Your Sightings!
Report Your Sightings
Persistent southerly winds seemed to have helped push the rubythroat migration to historic proportions. Look at the remarkable migration pattern, find out where the data come from and how made, and question the data as scientists do. Discover the secret to hummingbird hovering and flying in place. Predict how long before your hummer arrives.

Today's Report Includes:

Image of the Week
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News: Riding the Heat Wave?
Surprisingly Far North
With south winds and record-breaking heat last week, people reported remarkably early sightings from points across the north. Ruby-throated hummingbirds were reported from places where they don't usually arrive until late-April or May!

Historic Heat Wave
For nearly two weeks, strong south winds have been blowing warm air northward from the Gulf of Mexico. This map shows the persistent weather pattern responsible. Meteorologist Andrew Feedman says this heat wave is historic. Never since record-keeping began has a weather pattern been so early, so extreme, so long-lasting, and so geographically broad..

Data from Lanny Chambers
Many people wrote to ask about the sightings credited to Lanny Chambers. Mr. Chambers is a hummmingbird bander and the creator of "hummingbirds.net" one of the web's most popular hummingbird sites. He generously forwards the sightings reported to his website so that Journey North's migration map will be more complete.

Are the Sightings Valid?
We asked Mr. Chambers for his thoughts about the early sightings:

"I'm satisfied that the maps on my site represent reality, and that this spring's incredible weather has indeed blown at least some of the Ruby-throated hummingbird population northward 3-4 weeks earlier than the historical average. Think about it—weeks with strong southerly winds and no cold fronts to make migrants pause. I've not seen the like since I started doing this in 1996. It's perhaps the equivalent of a 100-year flood."

What Do You Think?
Read about the steps Mr. Chambers takes to vet sightings data reported to his website. Do you think the data are valid? What more could be done?

Citizen Science and Data Collection
Your sightings are important. Put your feeders out and be prepared to report the first hummingbird you see during this historical migration season.

animation
Compare:
2011 and 2012
 
Weather Pattern
Climate Central and NWS
Historic Heat Wave
 
mm
Lanny Chambers
Explore: Amazing Flyers
A hummingbird can't walk or hop, but it can zip backward, forward, sideways, and upside down. It can even hover in mid-air to sip nectar from flowers and feeders! Few other birds can do any of these things. What's his secret?

Try This! Hover Like a Hummer
Put your hands out to the side, palms down, and create a "figure 8." Here's how: Bring your hand forward and then up as you turn your palms up. Make sure your thumbs lead the way. As your hands go back, down and around, you'll come back to where you started. Imagine doing this 50 to 80 times a second as you take a long drink!



hummer flying machine
Credit: Martin Dollencamp
Amazing Flyers

Predict: When Will My Hummingbird Arrive?
How close are you to the nearest reported hummingbird sighting? Try finding your nearest hummer on our maps. Then measure how far it is from you!

weekly record sheet
Prediction Chart
Latest Maps
Weather patterns continued to bring warmer than average temperatures to a large portion of the ruby-throat migration range this past week. In the Pacific Northwest, spring has been slower in coming, but hummer sightings are reported after an extended period of snow and rain.

As you read this week's selected observation reports, use the journal page to list some questions you would ask the observers.

journal page
Journal
ruby map ruby map ruby map
Ruby-throated
(map | animation | sightings)
Rufous
(map | animation | sightings)
Other
(map | animation | sightings)
The next monarch migration update will be posted on April 4, 2012.
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