Hummingbird Migration Update: March 4, 1999
Today's Report Includes:
Hummingbirds Right on Schedule!
Ruby-throated hummingbirds haven't started to migrate, and only a few Rufous Hummingbirds seem to be moving so far. All reports of them this year have been very close to the Gulf Coast, the Pacific Ocean, or the Mexican Border.
Challenge Question # 2:
"Why do you suppose all the sightings of wintering and early migrating hummers cluster along the Gulf Coast, the Mexican Border, or near the Pacific Ocean?"
Get Ready for YOUR Hummingbirds to Return
This is the month when hummingbirds start to migrate, and they return to most of North America in April and May. So there's still plenty of time to get your hummingbird feeders cleaned out and your gardens planned out to make migration and nesting easier for hummers. For ideas on how to create habitat for hummers, visit Journey North's Unpave the Way for Hummingbirds.
Hummers burn up a LOT of energy migrating! To figure out just how much work they must do, try solving this week's
Challenge Question # 3
"Let's say a Ruby-throated Hummingbird fattens up in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, and then lights out over the Gulf of Mexico from Campeche. It flies in a straight line to Galveston, Texas. It can't rest or feed while over the Gulf, and can't soar or glide, so it must beat its wings the whole way. How many times must it flap its wings during that over-water journey?"
To solve this, you will need the following facts:
There! Now calculate!!
Discussion of Challenge Question # 1
We asked, "The tropics have so much biodiversity compared to the temperate zone. Why do you suppose hummingbirds bother to migrate back to the north every year?"
The Ferrisburgh Central School Third Grade came up with a great explanation: "We think that the hummingbirds come back north to lay their eggs. We think that there might be fewer animals that would want to eat their eggs in this area. There are more dangers in the tropics."
In much of North America, there are animals - mostly snakes, squirrels, jays, and crows - that eat bird eggs, but there aren't nearly as many egg-eaters as there are in the tropics!
Ms. McNamara's fourth grade class at St. Wenceslaus School in New Prague, MN, mentioned another important reason:
"We think hummingbirds return because if they all stay down in Mexico they will run out of flowers and plants
to take nectar from for food. In the spring and summertime in Minnesota there are lots of insects around the flowers
to eat, too." They might not run completely out of food in the tropics, but they sure do have a LOT of different
kinds of tropical hummingbirds to compete with, for both food and nesting sites. They'd spend most of their time
chasing other hummers away instead of eating down there!
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The Next Hummingbird Migration Update Will be Posted on March 11, 1999
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