Feisty and elegant, hummingbirds are creatures of many superlatives.
Not only are they among the smallest birds, they are the only avian helicopters capable of sustained hovering in place and flying backwards. Their small size belies their toughness – many hummingbirds migrate long distances and must eat several times their weight in nectar daily to stay alive. Their accelerated metabolism may keep hummingbirds moving at impressive speeds, but also means they live on the edge, consistently within hours of starving to death if they don’t find food.
To live such high energy lifestyles hummingbirds must sync their migration and nesting times with the flowering of nectar-bearing plants. Climate change threatens to throw off this delicate balance, with unknown repercussions for hummingbirds. We know that scientific research will be essential for helping us understand how climate change is affecting hummingbirds and for learning what we can do about it. But it’s not that simple. Collecting the necessary scientific data across large areas is difficult and costly.
So how can we begin the research necessary to answer important questions related to hummingbirds and climate change?
We need you.
Yes, you. With technology widely available today we can all become citizen scientists, spending a few minutes each week to collect data in our communities that will be invaluable for researchers. For instance, the smartphone in your pocket can be used as a high-tech data collection device, complete with GPS, camera, timer, and internet capabilities.
By joining Audubon Hummingbirds at Home you will join a movement to crowdsource rigorous science that is meaningful for hummingbirds.
You will become an integral piece of a continent-wide network of citizen scientists helping uncover how hummingbirds are affected by climate change and providing the information necessary to devise actions to help them.
Wondering how it works?
1. Create an account
Enter an email address and create a password to get up and running.
2. Identify a patch
Choose a patch that you can survey for hummingbirds. Your patch can be anything – your backyard, a spot in a nearby park, your school playground, etc. It just needs to be a place that hummingbirds may visit and that you can survey at least once (but hopefully many times!).
3. Conduct scheduled patch surveys
These are surveys or your patch that you plan ahead of time. To begin, click the "ENTER DATA" link in the main menu. You can conduct your survey for as little as 5 minutes and as long as 60 minutes – it’s up to you. During the survey, select any hummingbirds you see from the hummingbird pick list. Also select any food sources – flowering plants and hummingbird feeders—available in your patch. If hummingbirds fed from any of the food sources in your survey, check the appropriate box in the food sources pick list. Then submit your data and you’re done!
4. Submit data on single sightings
If you spot a hummingbird, a flowering plant, and/or a feeding event outside of your scheduled patch survey, we want to know about it! Log these in as “Single Sightings”. These sightings can occur within your patch or anywhere else.
5. Explore everyone's collected data
Check the ‘explore data’ link on the website to discover what we are learning about hummingbirds thanks to the efforts of our citizen science network. It's now possible to make a meaningful difference for the hummingbirds we love. Join us!