Hummingbirds visit our yards each spring to breed, looking for nectar from our gardens and feeders. Fascinating to watch, hummingbirds captivate us with their magical feats of flight and their showy colors. The Continental US is breeding home to 14 species of hummingbirds, with a few other species making rare appearances.
Recent science reports that flowers are blooming earlier and earlier due to climate change. Some flowers are blooming as many as 17 days before the migrating hummingbirds arrive. The impact for migrating and breeding hummingbirds is unknown.
Building on our Christmas Bird Count (CBC) legacy and the more recent success of the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), Audubon is launching a new program called Hummingbirds at Home.
Through this new program Audubon’s goal is to gather data that will help document the hummingbirds’ journey, and better understand how changing flowering patterns and supplemental feeding by people relate to hummingbirds’ migration and breeding success, and also climate change. Since nectar is critical to hummingbirds, we’re asking people to document which flowering plants hummingbirds are feeding in their backyards as well as whether hummingbird feeders are supplied and used. The Hummingbirds at Home program will provide an opportunity for citizen scientists to help us learn how these changes in the environment are impacting hummingbirds.
In this family-friendly program, participants will log hummingbird sightings and the flowering plants or feeders they visit, with free mobile technology or on desktop computers. Participants can also view hummingbird sightings online in real time. Scientists will use the data to better understand how hummingbirds are impacted by feeders, non-native nectar sources in gardens, shifting flowering times, and climate change.
Do you enjoy watching hummingbirds and want to become involved in this program? You can participate at a level that fits your schedule – from one sighting to watching hummingbirds over several weekends throughout the program. To learn more about this exciting citizen science project, go to www.audubon.org/citizenscience.