Making Connections for Hummingbird Conservation

In January 2020, Environment for the Americas, the University of Guadalajara, and the U.S. Forest Service offered a Hummingbird Monitoring for Conservation workshop at the Sierra de Manantlán Biosphere Reserve in Jalisco Mexico. Our goal is to provide the skills biologists need to effectively learn about hummingbirds and to understand the threats to hummingbird populations. Below is an excerpt from the journal of participant Susan Ballinger (featured below) of Wenatchee, Washington. Learn more about our work conserving hummingbirds at westernhummingbird.org

At the Sierra de Manantlán Biosphere Reserve in Jalisco, decades of collaboration between Mexican and U.S. ornithologists has resulted in cross-border scientific research and the creation of the Western Hummingbird Partnership (WHP), which focuses on the conservation of 7 species of long-distance migratory hummingbirds:  Rufous, Calliope, Broad-tailed, Allen’s, Costa’s, and Ruby-throated.  A total of 21 hummingbird species inhabit the Reserve, with resident, altitudinal migrant, and long-distant migrant species, several of which are regional endemics. In January 2020, biologists and educators from Mexico and the United States gathered at the Reserve for the WHP’s first Hummingbird Monitoring for Conservation Workshop.The workshop combined field work and classroom lectures focusing on the techniques and guiding principles of banding, measuring, and recording data on individual hummingbirds captured in mist nests or in traps.  Three mornings in the field allowed expert banders to teach and guide first-time hummingbird banders and data recorders.  Classroom lectures covered the ethics and guidelines for banding, methods for determining age, sex, life cycle stage, health, and how to accurately record data using standard protocols.  Instructors introduced the collective set of morphology measurements made for one individual in the field allows scientists to assess the condition of the bird in comparison to others. Lecturers presented visual and audio techniques for hummingbird study and compared methods of sampling protocols.  Throughout, the lecturers stressed the necessity to have a precise research question and reason for collecting the data because banding does put the individual bird at risk. Monitoring is our only tool to learn about the environmental and conservation status of hummingbirds.

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