Lanny Chambers' First Hummingbirds

(Back to Student Page)

Time: 1-2 periods


Math Challenges (upper grades)
Depending on the math skills of your students, consider doing one of the following:

  1. Challenge them to find the average, range, and median arrival dates on their own. Then have them make their prediction for this year. (Devising a problem-solving method is a great math exercise!)

  2. If students need more support, hand out the Calculating the Mean Student Worksheet (HTML or PDF). (This step-by-step example shows just one way to solve the problem.)

  3. You can also work through the problem together using the Calculating the Mean SAMPLE Worksheet (HTML or PDF). It shows how to work the problem using data from 1994-2003. After working through the sample, students can recalculate, including the arrival dates since 2003.

Journaling and Discussion Questions (with answers)

  • What factors do you think can affect when Lanny's hummingbirds arrive each year?
    (Storms and extended severe temperatures could directly harm or kill individual hummingbirds. These same factors could also affect the availability of nectar and insects, which are
    important Rubythroat food sources. Also, a returning hummingbird may have the same "clock" for migration, but a bird that's new to Lanny's territory might have slightly different timing.)

  • Based on Lanny Chambers's data, what general conclusions can you draw about hummingbirds' arrival in their breeding grounds in Missouri?
    (They generally arrive around the same date each year. Changes in daylenth [photoperiod] trigger hormones that give Rubythroats the urge to migrate. Weather may vary from year to year, but daylength, which changes consistently, is the main influence on migration.)

  • Why do you think scientists value the practice of long-term record keeping? What types of things can they learn from doing this?
    (They can study how short- or long-term changes in weather, climate, food availability, and other factors influence migrations.)