A note from Dr. Bill Hilton Jr.:
We will be celebrating the March 2015 Operation RubyThroat trip to Belize as my 25th citizen science hummingbird expedition to the Neotropics, where after ten years I’m still the only scientist conducting systematic research and banding on Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Archilochus colubris. Until I started work in collaboration with Ernesto M. Carman in Costa Rica in 2004, almost nothing was known about the behavioral ecology of ruby-throats on the OTHER end of their migratory path—even though these tiny birds spend nearly half the year in Mexico and Central America. When we go to Belize in mid-March ruby-throats are heading back north to nest, stopping by Crooked Tree to feed on prolific, nectar-rich, energy-laden flowers of Cashew trees, Anacardium occidentale. In five previous expeditions to Belize I have banded 153 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, one of which returned to the same location and demonstrated this species has site fidelity on its wintering grounds—something not previously known for Belize. Again in 2015 my citizen science volunteers will be helping capture ruby-throats as we attempt to understand even more about migration, population dynamics, molt, and longevity in this common North American breeding bird so poorly studied in the Neotropics. Incidentally, I'm also quite interested in any role Ruby-throated Hummingbirds play as temporal pollinators of native and non-native plants in Belize.
Learn more about Operation RubyThroat at rubythroat.org.