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Teaching Suggestions
An Amazing Rubythroat Journey
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For a long time, scientists didn't know the route ruby-throated hummingbirds take from their wintering grounds to the Gulf of Mexico coast. Could they fly 500 miles over the open sea with no food or rest? These tiny birds weigh little more than a penny. It didn't seem possible! Use the activities in this guide to introduce and explore the hummingbird's migration route.

Essential Question:

  • What makes it probable (or improbable) that ruby-throated hummingbirds can migrate 500 miles nonstop over the Gulf of Mexico?

An Amazing Rubythroat Journey

Before Reading

1. Start With Wonder: By Land or by Sea?
A hummingbird flaps its wings 75 times per second during flight, and typically eats every 15 minutes. When hummingbirds migrate, do you think they fly over land and feed on flowers along the way? Or do they fly over open seas, where there's no place to find food or rest? Have students look at the map and share predictions.

Hummingbird and Migration Map

Photo: Russ Thompson
By Land or By Sea?

2. Reading the Text

Viewing the Slideshow
As a class read through the pages of the slideshow together, stopping occasionally to spotlight key ideas and ask questions. Encourage students to share questions sparked by the information and images.

Reading the Booklet
Determine how you will have students experience the booklet text for a first reading: whole class, small group, partner, or individual. Encourage students to take notes or mark up the text--underlining key ideas and making notes in the margins.

3. After Reading

How Long to Cross the Gulf of Mexico?

Ruby-throated hummingbirds can fly 500 miles non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico. They typically fly about 25 miles per hour during migration. How long does the trip take?

  • Explore how wind speed and direction can affect flight times with this journal page.


4. Wrap Up: Summarize and Synthesize Learning

1. Summarize the Facts: Assessment Handout
Help students summarized what they learned in the slideshow by answering questions on this assessment handout.

2. Showcase Discoveries: Fact Poster
Have students use maps and photo gallery images that showcases the migration route and related facts. Extension: Challenge students to use technology to create an interactive discovery showcase.

3. Take it Live: Track Spring Hummingbird Migration With Journey North
As hummingbirds spread throughout their breeding range, continue to predict when and where they will travel.


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