How would you feel if a rare and beautiful bird suddenly showed up in your yard? Gerry Stewart of Vanleer, Tennessee, a rural area about 30 miles south of the Kentucky border, looked out her window on October 16, 2002, to see a Rufous Hummingbird! She was surprised and delighted.
At first Gerry thought "Rufie" was a female, because the tiny bird didn't have the bright colors of an adult male. Rufie showed up on seven days in October, but then disappeared. The tiny bird returned on November 10, and then starting on November 17 came daily through January 4. When Rufie came back in November, Gerry starting recording the temperature and the time the hummer first appeared each morning. To see this data, see:
But Gerry didn't just record date, time, and temperature. She kept other notes about this lovely bird, and contacted some banders who came and banded Rufie. That's when Gerry got a big surprise. Rufie wasn't a female--he was a male who hatched in 2002, so he was still in his immature plumage.
To see highlights of the day-by-day notes Gerry kept about Rufie, see:
To learn more about how ornithologists trap, handle, and band hummingbirds see:
Try This! Journaling Questions
What is your favorite bird? Imagine discovering an exciting, rare bird in your own backyard. What would you want to remember about it? What information would you want to record every single day? What information do you wish we had about Rufie?
Try This! Write Your Own Chronicles for a Bird!
Do you see a bird or group of birds every day? They could be chickadees or sparrows, ducks or pigeons, or anything else! Try to record the time your bird(s) first appear each morning, and the temperature, for two weeks. Graph your data as we did for Rufie.
Sometimes when we graph data, we see clear patterns. Sometimes we don't. Do your data graphs show a clear pattern?