Hummingbirds migrating earlier in spring: study
By Bruce Smith, APCHARLESTON, South Carolina--Ruby-throated hummingbirds are migrating to North America weeks earlier than in decades past, and research indicates that higher temperatures in their winter habitat may be the reason.
February 19, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
Researchers say the early arrival could mean less food at nesting time for the tiny birds that feed on insect pests, help pollinate flowers and are popular with birdwatchers.
“Hummingbirds are charismatic, and they do things that fascinate us,” said Ron Johnson, a scientist at Clemson University and one of the study's authors. “They fly backward, and they hover, and they will come to feeders at homes so people can easily see them.”
Johnson and colleagues from Clemson; Taylor University in Upland, Indiana; and the University of Nebraska last month published an article on the migration of the hummingbirds in The Auk, the Journal of the American Ornithologists Union.
The birds, which weigh little more than a nickel coin, fly hundreds of miles over the Gulf of Mexico from their wintering grounds in Central America to arrive in North America. The research compared data on their first arrival times from 1890 to 1969 with arrival times during the past 15 years or so.