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The Buzz

Hummingbirds are on Their Way and You Can Map Their Migration Progress




Photo by Suzy Lyttle

Each year, birders in the area look forward to the summer return of ruby-throated hummingbirds. 

We often get questions in regard to when these tiny avian wonders will appear at Plum Creek Nature Center in Crete Township and, according to interpretive naturalist Bob Bryerton, that could start happening by the middle of April. 

And thanks to a retired graphic designer and current bird bander, much of the guesswork can be eliminated. Lanny Chambers, with the help of birders reporting their sightings, is charting the migratory path.

The latest data shows the hummingbirds are just south of Tennessee and North Carolina.

"Migration mapping seemed like a fun thing to try," Chambers says on his website. "It turned out to be a lot of work, about two hours a day, every day, for three-and-a-half months each spring. It's worth it."

Even as the dots creep northward, don't expect to see a huge influx right away. It'll take some time for their numbers to be significant.

"They kind of trickle in," Bryerton said. "They are so small, a weird weather event could wipe out a whole bunch if they went together."

Bryerton said he expects the hummingbird population around Plum Creek Nature Center to be "in full force" by May.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds will migrate up into Canada so, even if you spot one locally, that doesn't mean that particular bird is going to be sticking around. 

A significant amount of effort goes into Chambers' map, as all of the data is submitted by the public and then he plots it by hand. 

Want to get in on the migratory mapping action? It only takes a minute to submit your sighting through his Migration Report Form.

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