“Hello? This is Ruby. Yes, that’s right Ruby Throated Hummingbird. Me and the girls were wondering what we can expect as we make our way to Wisconsin. As usual, the guys went on ahead. But you know guys…they never call. So we hope you can help.” Ruby told Delia about their journey through Mexico and the 20 hr. hop across the Gulf of Mexico. Now they were in Arkansas and still heading north.
Delia was happy to report that the gracious folks of Wisconsin had welcomed “the guys” with well-stocked bird feeders. But then her voice took on a more serious tone.
“Now I don’t want to alarm you, but you should know that you’ll face some of the same challenging conditions in Wisconsin that you’ve probably noticed all along your journey. There are fewer breeding and nesting grounds because of urban expansion, resource extraction, and agriculture and logging developments. And those tiny insects you eat to supplement nectar aren’t quite as plentiful. Some folks think they can spray pesticides willy-nilly, but that’s making it tougher on you girls. And speaking of nectar, Wisconsin’s having a late spring, so there should be plenty of blossoms. But your cousin, Ms. Broad-Tailed Hummingbird reported that the warming climate’s been causing wildflowers in the Rockies to bloom 2-3 weeks earlier than usual. So now when they arrive the blossoms have already faded taking their nectar with them. They’re having a tough time finding food.”
That night with a strong southerly breeze to push them along, Ruby and the girls took flight. As she flew Ruby thought about hummingbirds and humans. It’s clear that hummers and all birds need human cooperation if they are to survive. The Audubon Society is a big help. It suggests that her human friends talk with others about how the changing climate weakens bird populations. Finding ways to reduce fossil fuel use and supporting nation-wide plans to lower greenhouse gas emissions are critical. And Ruby is grateful when humans consider her needs as they design and care for their yards and communities because she has no other place to go. This is the only home birds will ever know. They’re forever…Earthbound.