This time of year, you might start hearing buzz about hummingbirds being seen on their way back from their tropical wintering grounds in Central America and Mexico!
Ruby-throated hummingbird migrations have been a little stop and go due to the colder temperatures and storms throughout the southern states as they try to move north to their breeding grounds throughout the eastern part of North America. According to Journey North – a website devoted to capturing the first sighting information about a select group of species, including these charismatic little birds – data from the last two years show the first Ruby-throated hummingbirds were spotted in Columbia County on around May 4, 2019. This means there is time still plenty of time to get your hummingbird feeders filled and ready to greet these weary travelers. As peak migration gets closer, keep an eye out for your first sighting and be sure to record it on their website, so they can continue to track the trends of these and other species for years to come.
If you don’t have a hummingbird feeder or would like to add to your existing collection, you could make your own by recycling glass jars. The advantage to using small jars or containers is that you can place them in different areas of your yard, near other flowering plants and shrubs.
The warming weather also means the birds that are already here are becoming more active and looking for a mate! You may be seeing courting behavior or nest building as you are out and about. Hopefully, you’re using e-bird to document what birds you are seeing!
If you’re feeling confident in your data collection abilities there’s another project that could use your help! New York State is embarking on the next edition (2020-2024) of the Breeding Bird Atlas. Atlas updates happen every 20 years, and for this update, they are using e-bird to collect the information.
The main difference between keeping a general e-bird list and a Breeding Bird Atlas list is just where you enter the data into the e-bird app. The State has been divided into “atlas blocks” to ensure coverage for the whole state. Columbia County has a total of 80 atlas blocks, and all the essential information you need on how to participate can be found here. Even if you can’t get out on a trail or in the woods, important atlas data can be collected around your home and neighborhood. The data collected over the next five years will help scientists and decision-makers create informed decisions on land management recommendations and funding in support of birds.