Earth Notes
5:24 pm
Wed May 4, 2011

Earth Notes - Hummingbird Monitoring Network

Flagstaff, AZ – Earth Notes: Hummingbird Monitoring Network

Can you imagine a world without hummingbirds? That central question drives the work of the Hummingbird Monitoring Network, a nonprofit group dedicated to conservation, education, research, and habitat restoration for these jeweled wonders of the bird world.

The monitoring program includes banding studies that generate information about hummingbird diversity and abundance, timing of the birds' movements, and population trends.

From nine sites in 2002, the network has expanded across the West. There are now about thirty sites, including several on the Colorado Plateau. And because many hummingbird species migrate, the network spans the United States, Canada, and Mexico and works with a number of private and public partners.

It's a citizen-science based program. At most sites, trained volunteers do the actual monitoring. And the public is invited to some monitoring sites to watch.

It's not bad work, getting to watch the little dynamos fly to feeders at places like Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and Mesa Verde and Bryce Canyon national parks. Likely visitors include broad-tailed and black-chinned hummingbirds, which both breed in the region.

They're joined by hummers passing through on their way to nesting grounds farther north, such as the fiery rufous and the tiny Calliope (PRON: kuh-lie-a-pea). With big declines in numbers, the rufous is a species of high concern.

The information gathered by the network ultimately will help detect population trends and emerging problems for hummingbirds. Because the more we know, the better the chances we'll never have to know a world without hummingbirds.

-Rose Houk