One hummingbird species, two maps

Hummingbirds.net Ruby-throated map Mar 2012

The migration map from hummingbirds.net through March 2012.

eBird Ruby-throated map Mar 2012

The same time period on the eBird map.


The best way to follow the spring migration of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds is the map at hummingbirds.net, but if you also follow eBird you might notice that sightings posted there tend to lag a bit behind. This annual discrepancy became a full-blown controversy in 2012, when sightings reported to hummingbirds.net galloped far ahead not only of eBird but of any similar period since 1996, the year hummingbirds.net creator Lanny Chambers began tracking Ruby-throated spring migration.

-w-250The reasons behind the 2012 discrepancy had more to do with different birding styles than with that spring’s odd weather or the birds themselves.¬† To clear the air and build a bridge between the mainstream birding and¬†hummingbird specialist communities, I wrote an analysis for the May 2014 issue of the American Birding Association‘s Birder’s Guide to Conservation and Community. Whether you’re not yet a member of ABA or missed that issue of the Birder’s Guide, you can read “Parallel Universes” for free right here (page 46).

Thanks to Birder’s Guide editor Michael Retter and all the hardworking folks who make ABA such a great organization, and to Lanny Chambers and his dedicated network of hummingbird watchers.

Join me in Trinidad & Tobago!

I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to co-host (with my husband and colleague Tom Wood) a tour of Trinidad & Tobago June 18-26, sponsored by the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory and arranged by Caligo Ventures. This island nation off the Caribbean coast of South America is home to over 400 species of birds, including 19+ species of hummingbirds, as well as a variety of other tropical wildlife from dainty butterflies to gigantic Leatherback Sea Turtles. Here’s a short introduction to the world-famous Asa Wright Nature Center, where the group will stay for five nights:

I’ve wanted to visit Trinidad and Tobago for over 30 years, ever since I read David Snow‘s studies of the White-bearded Manakin (Manacus manacus) at Asa Wright Nature Centre after returning from my first trip to Belize. I had spent many hours studying the previously undocumented courtship behavior of the closely related White-collared Manakin (Manacus candei), and Snow’s landmark work helped me understand what I had observed.

There are still spaces available on this tour for a few enthusiastic nature lovers (the limit is 10 participants). For more information, visit SABO’s Trinidad & Tobago info page or contact Caligo Ventures at 800-426-7781 or by e-mail.