Feb 28 2012

Where Are They Now?

Published by at 7:30 am under Migration

We had another dose of winter last weekend but spring is on its way and with it will come the hummingbirds.

Most ruby-throated hummingbirds spend the winter in Central America but in early spring an internal clock makes them restless to move north.

Dedicated observers have recorded hummingbird sightings on the Journey North hummingbird website since 1997.  Because of this data we know that a few hummingbirds are present in the U.S. all winter and that migrants begin to arrive in early March.

In Florida and along the Gulf Coast, birders and hummingbird banders are prepared for those first intrepid hummers who make an early journey to the States.  Behind the pioneer birds will come a wave of hummingbirds that will wash over Pittsburgh in late April.

The first birds will be here in seven or eight weeks.  Check Journey North's animated Spring 2012 ruby-throated hummingbird map to find out where they are now.  Check again each week and you'll be ready when the ruby-throats get here.

(photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

p.s. Don't miss Marcy's story about how she took this picture.  See the first comment below!

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Where Are They Now?”

  1. Marcy Con 28 Feb 2012 at 9:01 am

    About this photo…another from our old place when I first started taking photos and my first digital olympus camera…this hummer followed me in the house after I worked outside making spaghetti sauce and I was carrying in the kettle(covered) into the house…I finally coaxed it on to a strawbroom and was able to get it outside…my first upclose experience with hummers…since then, I rescued them from spider webs, out of mason jars after fighting and falling in and window collisions…it’s amazing to hold these little birds in your hand.

  2. Libby Wiseron 16 Jun 2012 at 8:16 pm

    I have hummingbird feeders (2) and every year they draw many. EXCEPT THIS year! Have seen only one. What is up with this? I miss warching these guys.

  3. Kate St. Johnon 16 Jun 2012 at 8:26 pm

    Libby, it certainly sounds like something changed. Perhaps your part of the country missed getting its usual dose of hummingbirds. (Where do you live?) Or perhaps the habitat or the predators changed in your neighborhood or back yard.

  4. Ray Perryon 18 Jun 2012 at 7:06 am

    We live in KY and have only seen two hummingbirds to date, June 18th. They usually arrive in late April!

  5. Kate St. Johnon 18 Jun 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Libby & Ray, I asked my friend Rob Protz if there were any regional issues with hummingbirds right now and he passed my question along to the Humnet Birding list, a site for folks who follow hummingbirds closely.
    Their discussion is here: http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/HUMN.html

    I will quote them below because their conversation will be disappear in a few days (pushed down by more recent news):

    Subject: Re: Question on RTHUs in KY
    Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2012 12:18:32 -0400

    From: Nancy L. Newfield
    My opinion is that this is a typical case of folks remembering the swarms of late July and August and failing to realize that this is June and many females are nesting away from feeder areas. Here in southern Louisiana, there was very little activity at our Covington banding site until this past week. Most of the customers we observed were young of the year though we did see 1 adult male color-marked from an earlier session and we caught a color-marked returnee [from 2011] female that
    carried an egg. This spring, we first caught her on 1 April and she carried an egg at that time.

    I think most places down here will see increased activity within 2-3 weeks. It might take a bit longer farther north.

    Nancy L Newfield
    Casa Colibri
    Metairie, LA USA

    From: Bob Sargent
    Nan, as usual, sums it up nicely. This inquiry is the most frequently asked question that I receive.

    I suggest keeping a ledger on Ruby-throated this year. It will ease the fears of their “demise” that occurs every year about this time.

    Worry not, all is well with these tiny creatures.

    Good luck all.
    Bob Sargent
    Clay, Alabama

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