How
Early Is Early?

Rufous
Hummingbird scientist Mike Patterson, holding another bird with
a rufous breastan American Robin! 
Mike
Patterson heard from most hummingbird watchers how early the hummingbirds
appeared to arrive in 2003. He wondered: How early? Using data collected
over the last three seasons, Mike compared the previous earliest records
to those received in 2003. Now it's your turn:
YOU
be the Scientist!
Work with Mike's data to calculate the answers he was looking for:

How many days earlier did each location report hummingbirds? (We've
done the first two for you.)
 How many
2003 sightings were LATER than a previous early date?
 What date
did the first Rufous Hummingbird appear in Gig Harbor, Washington, in
2003?
 What date
did the first Rufous Hummingbird appear in Philomath, Oregon, in 2003?
 Which
place had the biggest difference between 2003's early date and the previous
one?

The average is _________________days ahead of past records.
(Notice
this! To make calculations simpler, Mike doesn't put the dates
in his "date" column. Instead, he uses the calendar number.
For example, a report for January 1—the first day of the year—would
be number 1. January 31 would be 31. February 1 would be 32. February
28 would be 59.)
Place 
2003
Early Date 
Previous
Early Date 
Difference 
New
River, OR 
33

40 
7 
Waldport,
OR 
33

35

Ans2wer 
Florence,
OR 
39 
41

Answer 
Astoria,
OR 
39

55 
Answer 
Gig
Harbor, WA 
39

67

Answer 
Nahcotta,
WA 
42

57

Answer 
Coos
Bay, OR 
44 
47

Answer 
Lyngstad
Heights, OR 
45 
45

Answer 
Nanaimo,
BC 
48

51

Answer 
Portland,
OR 
49

55

Answer 
S.
Salem, OR 
50

66

Answer 
Vancouver,
WA 
50

62

Answer 
Merlin,
OR 
51

58

Answer 
Olympia,
WA 
53 
63

Answer 
Castle
Rock, WA 
53 
62

Answer 
Corvallis,
OR 
54

45

Answer 
South
Beach, OR 
56

45

Answer 
N.Albany,
OR 
56

76 
Answer 
Seaside,
OR 
56 
63

Answer 
McMinneville,
OR 
56

60

Answer 
Newberg,
OR 
57

61

Answer 
Montesano,
WA 
58

67

Answer 
Philomath,
OR 
58

58

Answer 
How did you do? To see the answers, click here.
Mike continues:
"2003 is an el Niño year. We have some very incomplete data
from years before 2000, but that data suggest that very early arrivals
occurred in 1992 and 1998, which were also el Niño years."
Try
This! Journaling Question
 El
Nino affects temperatures, but Mike reminds us that some plant species
are more dependent on photoperiod (number of hours of daylight) for
their signal to bloom than on temperature. In 2003, for example, some
flowers were early, but Salmonberry was right on schedule. What do you
think was causing so many early arrival dates for Rufous Hummingbirds?
If you were a scientist, how would you test your answer?
