Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Connects Our World

A male Ruby-throated Hummingbird was banded in fall 2019 by David La Puma of New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory. In February 2020, it was recaptured by Ariel Salinas at a research site in Reserva Silvestre Privada Concepción in Nicaragua, at least 3,000 km (1,864 miles) south. We don’t know its exact route, but the recapture provides rare insight into the journey of a bird that weighs no more than 6 grams, the same as a U.S. quarter.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird starts its southward journey in eastern Canada and the United States to its wintering grounds in southern Mexico and Central America. Research indicates a hummingbird can double its body mass in preparation for migration. After a ~20-hour solo flight from one side of the Gulf of Mexico to the other, or after making the 500 mile flight from Florida to the Yucatan, it will lose about half of this weight.  Banding hummingbirds requires special bands and training. Each band placed around a hummingbird’s leg has a unique number that identifies it, no matter where it is recaptured. It is this number, “P86490,” that led David and Ariel to one another and to another bit of information that helps us understand Ruby-throated Hummingbird migration.

Hummingbirds connect our world, and your actions at home can help them. Keep your hummingbird feeders clean and plant native flowers that provide the nectar these tiny birds need to survive. Citizen scientists across North America are observing seasonal changes and reporting hummingbird sightings. Watch for hummingbirds and report your sightings to

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