Birding Business December 2014: Hummingbird Research

Hummingbird 
Research 
Provides 
Surprising 
Answers

The placing tiny bands on the legs of hummingbirds over the past few years has allowed scientists and ornithologists to accumulate vital statistics on their life cycles, migrating habits, and many other aspects of their lives.

Researchers have discovered that hummers can live as long as 10 years, far longer than the two or three previously thought. And one Rufus Hummingbird banded in Florida one winter was found the following summer some 3,500 miles away in Alaska.  It has even been found that some can withstand temperatures below zero degrees.

Bruce Peterjohn, chief of the bird banding lab for the U.S. Geological Survey’s research center in Maryland said “We’re learning a lot about hummingbirds we never would have learned otherwise.” All this research has led to many more questions they hope to answer in future surveys, such as… do they fly hundreds of miles at a time during long migrations, or do they make many stopovers to refuel along the way?  All this new knowledge has made Peterjohn and his crew realize how little we know, and how much there is still to be discovered.