I’ve always had a soft spot for hummingbirds; they are tiny, pugnacious, fast, and beautiful. They are tough too; many hummingbirds migrate incredibly long distances.
All of that comes at a cost, however: hummingbirds must eat several times their weight in nectar daily to stay alive. This means they may be especially vulnerable to climate change, as changes in local flower crops can mean starvation for the bitty birds. Recent studies suggest that there could be a mismatch between flowering times and the arrival of hummingbirds in their breeding areas.
The Audubon Society wants to know how this may be impacting the hummingbirds. To that end, the organization has started Hummingbirds@Home and it wants you to help. All you need to do is register with the site, find a patch where hummingbirds are likely to visit, and observe it regularly. Then you can report your data via an iPhone or Android App, or simply visit the main website and login there. There is no cost to download or join, and you don’t need to have a hummingbird feeder either.
The project will also help you to learn about hummingbirds and flowers, as the program provides images of the most likely species you will see in your observations. As data starts coming in, the Society will build an interactive map that you can explore as well. The project is likely to continue over several seasons as well.
And hey — in addition to helping science, this project provides another excuse to get out in your garden this spring. What more could you ask for?