Hummingbird watch chance to help

Sharna Johnson

Sharna Johnson

Sharna Johnson

Columnist

You get all gussied up, meanwhile working through the mental preparation for the big event.

Sure, it will be a long drive, but seeing friends, adventure, the chance to mingle a little and seek new opportunities, oh, and the food, yes, definitely the food, will make it all worth it.

The excitement is barely containable as the miles tick by and then finally, you’re there.

Only there is no party.

All that’s left is dried up food and empty glasses — you missed it.

Now you’re starving, exhausted, and not quite sure what to do next.

But at least you can breathe a sigh of relief that you’re not a hummingbird.

Because of climate change and early blooming patterns, scientists speculate hummingbirds might just be missing the party on a regular basis.

And with a nectar dependency that accounts for as much as 90 percent of their diet, that could spell trouble if they don’t adapt and change their migratory timing, according to the National Audubon Society.

Then again, since there has been no large-scale, comprehensive study conducted, there is nothing to do but speculate.

It’s cause enough for concern to prompt a call for help from citizen scientists across the nation and with the help of volunteers everywhere, scientists are hoping to accomplish a task that might otherwise be impossible.

This week, the Audubon Society announced the release of a free app to aid citizen observers in collecting and reporting information that will help develop a better understanding of what, if any changes the little birds are facing as they embark on their spring pilgrimages to feeding and breeding spots across the nation.

“Hummingbirds at Home was designed to bolster current research by collecting data from volunteers across the country that offers important insight on the effects of climate change and the birds’ well-being,” a press release from the Audubon stated.

“Participants can get involved by spending a few minutes as frequently as they wish to collect invaluable data from feeding areas in their gardens and communities. Audubon’s Hummingbird at Home app makes it fun and easy.”

Available at www.hummingbirdsathome.org, the app is free and provides a simple interface so anyone from the casual observer to the most diehard birder can contribute data to the study.

An interactive map, sparsely populated as of yet, is also available so hummingbird enthusiasts and participants can track the progress of the study and see the data that has been collect.

Though not yet represented in the available data, as home to one of the more diverse populations of hummingbirds in the nation – boasting nearly 20 species — and serving as a thru fare on the migration path, New Mexico has a lot to say about hummingbirds.

And, whether it’s a fun summer project to do with the kids or just a fun summer project for kids at heart, the Clovis area — as one of the few oases in a great expanse of dry and a sure stopping point for travelin’ birds — could most definitely contribute to such an ambitious project.

Whether observing a one-hit-wonder that flits through or a frequent visitor to the flower patch in the back yard, it’s all part of a much bigger picture of a fascinating little bird.

Sharna Johnson is a writer who is always searching for ponies. You can reach her at:

insearchofponies@gmail.com