ISC-Audubon

 
 
 

SustainAbility Newsletter

Critter of the Season - The Ruby Throated Hummingbird and Bird Migration

By: Ron Dodson

HummingbirdThe Ruby-throated Hummingbird is by far the most common species that breeds in the eastern half of North America, although most states have sporadic Rufous Hummingbird sightings.

Ruby-throats are intensely inquisitive and thus easily attracted to feeders, where males in particular typically display aggressive territoriality toward rival hummers, other birds, and even insects such as bees, butterflies, and sphinx moths. They quickly become accustomed to human presence, and will swoop down to investigate red articles of clothing, possibly as potential food sources. Feeders hung at windows attract as many visitors as ones farther from structures, and the bird that claims a feeder as its territory may spend much of the day perched nearby, guarding the food source against intruders. Many hummingbird watchers find "Hummer Wars" endlessly entertaining, although the chases are obviously serious business to the hungry birds. For a short period immediately after fledging, a female will tolerate the presence of her own young at the feeder, but they are soon treated the same as other adult birds - as rivals in pursuit of the food necessary to prepare for the fall migration.

Bird migration is the regular seasonal journey undertaken by many species of birds. Bird movements include those made in response to changes in food availability, habitat or weather. These however are usually irregular or in only one direction and are termed variously as nomadism, invasions, dispersal or irruptions. Migration is marked by its annual seasonality. In contrast, birds that are non-migratory are said to be resident or sedentary. Approximately 1800 of world's 10,000 bird species are long-distance migrants.

Many bird populations migrate long distances along a flyway. The most common pattern involves flying north in the spring to breed in the temperate or Arctic summer and returning in the fall to wintering grounds in warmer regions to the south.

The primary advantage of migration is conservation of energy. The longer days of the northern summer provide greater opportunities for breeding birds to feed their young. The extended daylight hours allow diurnal birds to produce larger clutches than those of related non-migratory species that remain in the tropics year round. As the days shorten in autumn, the birds return to warmer regions where the available food supply varies little with the season.

Most migrations begin with the birds starting off in a broad front. In some cases the migration may involve narrow belts of migration that are established as traditional routes termed flyways. These routes typically follow mountain ranges or coastlines, and may take advantage of updrafts and other wind patterns or avoid geographical barriers such as large stretches of open water. The specific routes may be genetically programmed or learned to varying degrees. The routes taken on forward and return migration are often different.

Many of the larger birds fly in flocks. Flying in flocks helps in reducing the energy needed. Many large birds fly in a V-formation, which helps individuals save 12–20 % of the energy they would need to fly alone.

Birds fly at varying altitudes during migration. An expedition to Mt. Everest found skeletons of Pintail and Black-tailed Godwit at 16,400 ft on the Khumbu Glacier. Bar Headed Geese have been seen flying over the highest peaks of the Himalayas above 29000 ft even when low passes of 10000 ft were nearby. Seabirds fly low over water but gain altitude when crossing land and the reverse pattern is seen in land birds. However most bird migration is in the range of 500 ft to 2000 ft. Bird-hit aviation records from the United States show most collisions occur below 2000 ft and almost none above 6000 ft.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds breed throughout eastern to Midwestern North America, from southern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Most winter in Mexico, Central America, and on Caribbean islands, although a few remain in the Gulf States and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Most researchers accept a remarkable non-stop crossing of the Gulf of Mexico, taking 18-20 hours. They arrive at the coast in late February or early March, and follow the development of spring flowers northward. Males migrate earlier than females, in both directions; some adult males start south as early as July. By mid-November the fall migration is essentially completed throughout North America.

Many people only think about providing habitat for birds during the nesting season, but providing safe areas for birds during the fall and spring migration season may be just as important.  Even small areas can provide safe haven for the long distance migrants as they wing their way south in the fall and back north again in the spring. 

Ron Dodson is President of The Dodson Group, LLC and Chairman of the International Sustainability Council, Inc. , This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


PDF


CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE ENTIRE NEWSLETTER IN PDF FORMAT

References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles
www.audubonlifestyles.org

The International Sustainability Council
www.thesustainabilitycouncil.org 

Sustainability Campaign
sustainabilitycampaign.blogspot.com

EnergyStar
www.energystar.gov/

The Business Alliance for Living Economies
www.livingeconomies.org

American Society of Golf Course Architects
www.asgca.org

The United States Golf Association (USGA)
www.usga.org

Sustainable Golf & Development 
www.sustainablegolfdevelopment.com

The PGA Golf Club
www.pgavillage.com

Urbana University
www.urbana.edu

   

SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

Bermuda Triangle to Become Humpback Whale Haven

humpwhale.png

The Bermuda Triangle holds an often maligned and mysterious place in ocean lore, but for endangered humpback whales, it's about to get a little more welcoming.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently announced a letter of intent signed by the Bermuda Department of Environmental Protection to establish a sister sanctuary to NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary for the gentle giants.
 
The sister sanctuary would not be the first for Stellwagen Bank, located in the Gulf of Maine, and its humpback whales. Beginning in 2007, Stellwagen established the world's first sister sanctuary with the Dominican Republic's Santuario de Mamiferos Marinos de la República Dominicana to protect the endangered migratory marine mammal on both ends of its range.
 
Whale populations
There are five distinct populations of humpbacks in the North Atlantic, with Stellwagen Bank being the feeding grounds for one of the groups. The other four are off the coasts of Nova Scotia, Norway, Greenland and Iceland. Down in the Caribbean, the whales mingle during breeding season, and one of the largest congregation spots is off the coast of the Dominican Republic.
 
But protecting just two points in the humpbacks' range is not enough to ensure their survival. Bermuda will protect the species in its migratory corridor, rather than the furthest reaches of its range, the first marine mammal sanctuary to offer such a waypoint.
"This is a first step in putting together conservation stepping stones throughout their migration," said Nathalie Ward, coordinator of the Sister Sanctuary Program for Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

When the Bermuda sanctuary is established, hopefully by the end of this year, NOAA will issue a memorandum of understanding to exchange data that will include photos of the whales and coordinate research, education and strategies for engaging locals in whale conservation. The massive creatures are threatened not only from direct human pressures, such as ship strikes or fishing net entanglement, but also indirect pressures such as pollution and ocean noise.

The goal is to grow the family of sanctuaries throughout the Caribbean, Ward told OurAmazingPlanet. NOAA is currently negotiating memorandums of understandings with the French Antilles and some Dutch territories in the eastern Caribbean.

"If we don't have protection in different parts of the humpback's range," Ward said, "it's going to impact our population."

Good for whales and humans
The sanctuaries allow for more focused research that can reap benefits for the whales. In Stellwagen Bank, renowned for its whale watching, researchers looked at more than 20 years of whale sighting reports to establish where the whales spent most of their time. The effort resulted in a proposal to shift shipping lanes northward by just 12 degrees, which scientists estimated could reduce whale strikes by 81 percent.

Information like that in other regions of the whales' migration path could help inform similar management techniques, as well as help boost local economies by establishing whale watching and other tourism that supports both the sanctuary and the people who live nearby.

"This is really a pioneering program," Ward said. "The expansion of our Sister Sanctuary Program will play a powerful role in protecting endangered humpback whales, and the opportunity for international cooperation in marine conservation is invaluable."
     


PDF

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE ENTIRE NEWSLETTER IN PDF FORMAT
References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:
Audubon Lifestyles
www.audubonlifestyles.org 
  
The International Sustainability Council
www.thesustainabilitycouncil.org 

Toyota
www.toyota.com

Ford Motors
www.ford.com

Girl Scouts of America
www.girlscouts.org

Austin Ranch
www.austinranch.com

Turf Feeding Systems
www.turffeeding.com

The University of Michigan
www.umich.edu

The Dodson Group
www.thedodsongrp.com      

To learn about sponsorship opportunities please call us at: 727-733-0762
This Issue of the SustainAbility Newsletter sponsored in part by:

The Dodson Group

$25 Annually $100 Annually $250 Reg / $100 Annually


SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITY

Sponsors are a critically important part to the success of ISC-Audubon. As a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating sustainability, we offer all of our programs to our members free of charge, and are publicly available for download on our website.

ISC-Audubon is proud to extend the opportunity to select businesses and organizations to become sponsors of our sustainability education and advocacy programs. As a sponsor, your business or organization can realize significant value.

Click here to learn more about this opportunity. 

 
 

A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

ISC-Audubon is a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. 

Funds generated through memberships and donations are used to provide fruit & vegetable seeds, wildflower seed mix, and wildlife feed & birdseed to urban and suburban communities around the world. These seeds are used by communities to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

Read more

You are here: Home Broadcast Audubon SustainAbility Newsletter Archives Fall 2010 Critter of the Season - The Ruby Throated Hummingbird and Bird Migration