The Bitterroot Valley is home to the rufous, calliope, and black-chinned species of hummingbirds. Recently, resident hummingbirds fledged. Combine an influx of migrants from the north with recent fledglings, and the number of birds that zip and buzz from flowers to feeders has spiked.
A black-chinned hummingbird visits a feeder. It is difficult to distinguish females from immature birds this time of year.
According to the Audubon Society, hummingbirds rely on sugar-rich nectar for nearly 90 percent of their diet. The remainder consists of insects and pollen that provide protein. Audubon reports that warming temperatures and an earlier flower bloom may have severe impacts on hummingbird behavior and populations. With this in mind, MPG has decided to maintain more feeders. All three houses on the property will have feeders. There will also be a feeder at an education garden, with many native flowers and a source of water. During spring and fall raptor migration, which coincides with part of the hummingbird migration, I will experiment with a high-elevation feeder on Baldy Mountain.
We will also participate in an Audubon-sponsored citizen science project called Hummingbirds at Home. This is a nationwide project that will monitor hummingbird behavior through citizen participation. Via Audubon's website or a mobile app participants can report their hummingbird encounters. Audubon will then tally single sightings, or document activity from specific locations over time.
Look for updates, future hummingbird projects, and volunteer opportunities on our website and Facebook page.
Eric received a B.S. in Resource Conservation from the University of Montana in 2000, and soon after volunteered for his first bird research job in the arctic tundra of Alaska. Afterwards he worked for nine years, mostly in western Montana, on bird-related research projects for the U.S. Forest Service.
In 2010, Eric was hired by MPG Ranch as the Bird Research Technician and now conducts breeding bird surveys, raptor migration surveys, and winter bird surveys, as well as participating in other ranch projects such as owl and raptor banding and community field trips. In his free time, Eric enjoys searching for wild mushrooms, playing ultimate Frisbee, and backcountry skiing.