Hummingbird enthusiasts will rejoice at the Audubon Society’s newest app, Hummingbirds at Home, a tool to crowdsource scientists’ understanding of hummingbird behavior in response to climate change. Like tiny, well oiled machines, these flying aces carefully sync their migration and foraging patterns in time with the bloom periods of their nectar sources. But as climate change increasingly gunks up the works, these incremental changes – slippages in bloom periods, anomalous weather patterns, drought – could trigger a tectonic slip in hummingbirds’ ability to forage and breed. By monitoring how and when hummingbirds nectar in gardens around the world, scientists hope to track these changes and how – or more importantly, if – hummingbirds are able to adapt. Too, by tapping into homeowner’s backyards, scientists get a glimpse into how hummingbirds interact with artificial nectar sources (feeders).
The app is free; download it, and you are ready to start logging time in the backyard. The app allows you to set up a patch in your backyard for repeat observations throughout the season, or simply log single observations if you do your birding through the kitchen window when you do dishes. The app’s website offers two great tutorial videos that walk you through how to get set up, and the easy interface includes a simple guide to identify and log hummingbird species and nectar sources, even your feeder.
True: your participation will give the scientists behind Hummingbirds at Home a window into hummingbird behavior. But on a more personal level, it will give you a window into the lives of your neighbors – the winged ones that careen through your yard like spastic fairies, of course.