Masthead banner of Park Science: Integrating Research and Resource Management in the National Parks; ISSN 1090-9966; link to current issue
Volume 28
Number 2
Summer 2011
Arrowhead symbol of the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior
Home + About + Author Guidelines + Archive + Subscribe +  
A volunteer releases a hummingbird from her hands Sidebar
Hummingbird monitoring in Colorado Plateau parks

By Jean Palumbo
Published: 4 Sep 2015 (online)  •  14 Sep 2015 (in print)
  Article text
About the author
+ PDF +
Article text
Technicians band a hummingbird at Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

NPS/Jean Palumbo, Southern Colorado Plateau Network

Sarah Haas, wildlife biologist for Bryce Canyon National Park, observes while Adam Hutchins, Dixie National Forest wildlife technician, bands a hummingbird.

Hummingbirds have one of the highest metabolic rates of any animal (Hargrove 2005). When you consider their small size and the long migrations of many species, hummingbirds quite possibly could serve as an early indicator of the cascading effects of a warming climate in the western United States. When the timing of flowering for nectar-producing plants does not coincide with their daily energy needs, hummingbird populations may decline. And since hummingbirds are pollinators, a decline in their numbers could cause a decline in fruit production for the plants they pollinate (Allen-Wardell 1998). This, in turn, may adversely affect populations of organisms that feed on fruit, such as other bird and animal species, including invertebrates and microbes.

“It’s all about phenology,” says Larry Norris, NPS southwest research coordinator for the Desert Southwest Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (CESU). “When do the plants that hummingbirds feed on bloom? When do the midges and gnats that they eat hatch?” To discover how phenology—the timing of periodic biological phenomena—affects hummingbirds, the CESU provided funding in 2003 that was critical in establishing the Hummingbird Monitoring Network (HMN), which is run by executive director Susan Wethington and headquartered in Patagonia, Arizona. This helped to start up monitoring sites in Arizona’s Chiricahua National Monument, Coronado National Memorial, and Tumacacori National Historical Park, and marked the beginning of hummingbird monitoring on the Colorado Plateau.

Return to top

This page updated:  8 November 2011

Page 1 of 4 • Next +
From the Editor
Information Crossfile
Masthead Information
Special Issue: Climate Change Science in the National Parks
Climate change impacts and carbon in U.S. national parks
Glossary: Climate change–related terms
Pikas in Peril: Multiregional vulnerability assessment of a climate-sensitive sentinel species
Pika monitoring under way in four western parks: The development of a collaborative multipark protocol
Climate change science in Everglades National Park
Sea-level rise: Observations, impacts, and proactive measures in Everglades National Park
Landscape response to climate change and its role in infrastructure protection and management at Mount Rainier National Park
Glacier trends and response to climate in Denali National Park and Preserve
Climate change, management decisions, and the visitor experience: The role of social science research
Conserving pinnipeds in Pacific Ocean parks in response to climate change
The George Melendez Wright Climate Change Fellowship Program: Promoting innovative park science for resource management
Estimating and mitigating the impacts of climate change and air pollution on alpine plant communities in national parks
Parks use phenology to improve management and communicate climate change
Standards and tools for using phenology in science, management, and education
  Hummingbird monitoring in Colorado Plateau parks
Paper birch: Sentinels of climate change in the Niobrara River Valley, Nebraska
Climate change in Great Basin National Park: Lake sediment and sensor-based studies
Long-term change in perennial vegetation along the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park (1889–2010)
The distribution and abundance of a nuisance native alga, Didymosphenia geminata, in streams of Glacier National Park
Monitoring direct and indirect climate effects on whitebark pine ecosystems at Crater Lake National Park
Related Publications + Explore Nature + + Privacy + Disclaimer + Contact Editor
Web Site Last Updated: 16 September 2015