THE WESTERN HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT (WHP): HUMMINGBIRD

CONSERVATION IN NORTH AMERICA

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

 

Susan M. Wethington, PhD, Executive Director, Hummingbird Monitoring Network,

P.O. Box 115, Patagonia, AZ 85624, 520-394-2350, swething@dakotacom.net

 

Diana L. Craig Regional Wildlife Ecologist, Pacific Southwest Region (Region 5)

USDA Forest Service, 1323 Club Drive, Vallejo, CA 94592, 707-562-8930, dcraig01@fs.fed.us.

 

Cheryl Carrothers, Wildlife Program Leader, USFS Pacific Southwest Region

Ecosystem Conservation, 1323 Club Drive, Vallejo, CA 94592-1110, 707-562-8929, ccarrothers@fs.fed.us.

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The US Forest Service (FS) as part of the Wings Across the Americas Program, and the Hummingbird

Monitoring Network (HMN) are working together to develop and implement the Western

Hummingbird Project (WHP), which will address hummingbird conservation issues in North America.

This program will build partnerships and collaborations with FS regions across the west, non-profit

organizations, universities and other governmental agencies at both the federal and state levels. The

conservation programs developed will include habitat restoration and enhancement, monitoring,

research, and education/outreach.

Hummingbirds are the feathered jewels of the migratory bird world, but receive relatively little

attention from a conservation standpoint, yet there are indications that populations of at least some of

the species are declining. The Rufous Hummingbird is identified as one of the “20 Birds in Decline”

by The Audubon Society and American Bird Conservancy and is a Partners in Flight (PIF) species of

continental concern. In addition to the Rufous Hummingbird, that migrates from Alaska to southern

Mexico, the Calliope, Anna's, Broad-tailed, Lucifer, Broad-billed, and Costa’s Hummingbird are all

identified as Birds of Conservation Concern and all form a group of species very attractive to the

public and birders, yet for which little is known of their natural history, habitat requirements, and

threats.

HMN is a science-based, project-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of

hummingbird diversity and abundance throughout the Americas. HMN currently maintains over 30

study sites in Canada and the USA and is expanding into Mexico. Our field studies’ sites are chosen

using geographic, habitat, and disturbance factors and are evaluated using hummingbird diversity and

abundance patterns, levels of breeding activity, and migration stopover use. We now have the

opportunity to ask questions at landscape levels.

The mission of the FS is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and

grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. As such, the FS is an important partner

for hummingbird conservation. Most North American hummingbirds live and rely on forests where

their diversity is greatest in western North America. The FS is a critical link for integrating current

science into land management actions toward the protection and enhancement of hummingbirds and

their habitats.

 

MISSION OF THE WHP

 

The mission of the Western Hummingbird Project is to work together to maintain thriving

hummingbird populations and their habitats throughout western North America.

 

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

 

We will accomplish our mission by bringing conservation focus to western hummingbirds through

habitat restoration and enhancement, monitoring, research, and education/outreach projects and

through the creation of a broad partnership of non-profit organizations, universities, and governmental

agencies at both the federal and state/provincial levels within the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

There are many gaps in information. Therefore, the intent of the Western Hummingbird Project is to

investigate what hummingbirds in North America need to survive, successfully reproduce, and sustain

viable populations and to inform policy makers so habitats can be managed in a way that help

hummingbirds and their communities thrive. The products of this partnership will be conservation

action plans and recommendations to land management agencies.

Our goal is to establish the most effective conservation program for hummingbirds in North America

by creating a broad partnership of collaborators. We invite those interested in working on these issues

to join the Network. If you are interested in participating, please send Susan Wethington an e-mail,

swething@dakotacom.net, describing how you would like to be involved.

 

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

 

The partnership and collaborations of the WHP will develop a network of professionals working on

hummingbird conservation issues. The success of this project depends upon open communication and

cooperation; therefore, the following guidelines will apply:

 

• The partnership is mission-based and all efforts should be consistent with and further the

mission

• Participants are empowered to make individual contributions; hence sharing information and

educating are important because this provides the basis for making meaningful contributions

and the understanding of why the effort is important

• This results in a partnership that works with integrity and provides a framework for solving

problems

 

STARTING THE WHP

 

Our first step is to sponsor a workshop/symposium that creates a forum for focused discussions on

issues related to hummingbird conservation. The workshop will create a common understanding of the

state of knowledge and conservation of hummingbirds and identify key actions and projects that will

best use the available resources to advance hummingbird conservation issues. Products of this

workshop will be the formation of a working group that will develop an action plan to address the

project goals and the publication of the workshop proceedings.

 

The WHP workshop will be held in conjunction with the Cooper Ornithological Society (COS) annual

meeting/conference in Tucson, Arizona from April 16-18, 2009. The WHP workshop will be held on April

16. During the morning, a hummingbird symposium will be held to create a common understanding of

the state of knowledge of hummingbirds. In the afternoon, breakout session will be held to focus

attention on conservation needs / issues of North American hummingbirds. On Friday April 17, we

will synthesize the afternoon discussions and then present the information at an informal lunch meeting

on Saturday, April 18.

On Sunday morning, HMN monitors hummingbird populations at a number of sites in southeastern

Arizona. Participants are welcomed to attend these sessions.

 

PRELIMINARY AGENDA FOR WHP APRIL WORKSHOP

 

Hummingbird Conservation Symposium

 

WHEN: Thursday, April 16, 2009, 8:00am-12:30pm

WHERE: COS meeting room at the Double Tree Hotel, Tucson, AZ

INVITEES: Workshop participants. For people attending the COS meeting, please visit their

website for registration. For others interested in the WHP but not the COS meeting,

information about registration will be provided in February.

AGENDA: The first part of this workshop will focus on creating a common understanding of the

state of knowledge and conservation of hummingbirds. Presented papers will include the following

topics (* indicates papers with authors):

 

1. *Systematics / Evolution, Dr. Douglas Altshuler, UC Riverside

2. *Conservation Genetics, Dr. Holly Ernest, UC Davis

3. Physiology

4. *Energetics, Dr. Don Powers, George Fox University

5. *Foraging Strategies, Dra. Ma del Coro Arizmendi, UNAM, Mx

6. *Population Health Issues (Disease and Parasites), Dr. Lisa Tell and Dr. Holly Ernest, UC

Davis

7. Biology of hummingbird nectar resources

8. Pollination Biology

9. *Breeding biology, Dr. Harold Greeney, UNV Reno and Yanayacu Biological Station Ecuador

10. *Migration and movement patterns, Dr. Susan Wethington, HMN

11. *Over-wintering Ecology, M.C. Sarahy Contreras Martinez, U. de Guadalajara, Mx

12. *Linking populations, Dr. Jonathan Moran, Royal Roads University, BC Ca

13. *Conservation Status of Western Hummingbirds, Diana Craig and Cheryl Carrothers, USFS

 SCHEDULE: TBD

 

Lunch 12:45-2:00 pm

 

Working Breakout Sessions

 

WHEN: Thursday, April 16, 2009, 2:30pm-5:00pm

WHERE: University laboratories

INVITEES: Symposium attendees and other registered participants

AGENDA: Small working groups will meet to discuss a conservation issue, identify gaps in

knowledge, and recommend key actions needed to address this issue for western hummingbirds.

Proposed topics include:

 

1. Population Trends / Coordinated Monitoring

2. Phenology and climate change

3. Effects of fire on hummingbird resources

4. Hummingbird biology needs (include insects)

5. Diversity, distribution and abundance patterns

6. Habitat Relationships

7. Citizen Science / Environmental Education

8. Pollination biology

9. Human Impacts

10. Primary threats

11. Other Conservation Issues

 

WHP Evening Social

 

WHEN: Thursday, April 16, 2009, 7:00pm-9:30pm

WHERE: TBD

INVITEES: Open Invitation but will require reservations

AGENDA: Celebrate the start of WHP, recognize HMN supporters, and provide an informal

setting for continued discussions

 

Cooper Ornithological Society (COS) Meeting

 

WHEN: Friday, Saturday April 17-18, 2009, all day

WHP Core Working Group Meeting

WHEN: Friday, April 17, 2009, 8:00am to 5:00pm

WHERE: TBD

INVITEES: Breakout Session Representatives

AGENDA: Refine the products from Thursday and prepare for the Saturday noon summary

presentation. A representative of each break out session will meet with the steering

committee to summarize the results their session.

 

WHP Initial Project Definition

 

WHEN: Saturday April 18, 2009, noon meeting

WHERE: COS Meeting Room

INVITEES: WHP Partners and Interested Individuals

AGENDA: Summarize results of the workshop and present initial WHP definition

 

 For those participating in HMN’s monitoring session, provide information about monitoring

locations and schedule.

 

HMN Monitoring

 

WHEN: Sunday April 19, 2009, sunrise to noon

WHERE: Monitoring sites

INVITEES: WHP Partners and Interested Individuals – all are welcomed to attend with

limited opportunity to participate.

AGENDA: Participate in a spring monitoring session

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