Research update – February 24, 2013 – Season Midpoint
Photo by Sarah Hadley
I know it has been a while since the last blog posting. While this might indicate that not much of interest has taken place, it is actually quite the opposite… We end up with so much going on that we have no time to write about it! We are now at the midpoint of the season in terms of time. People have come and gone, been sick and injured. Things have been constructed, broken and then fixed. A lot has been done and there is much still to do! The first part of the season has ended up being a huge amount of preparation and exploratory data collection. The main tasks we were working at were:
1. Finishing constructing and troubleshooting the RFID readers. Without these units in operation we can collect very little data this season!! Obviously this has been a critical hurdle.
2. We had to catch and tag all of the hummingbirds whose movement patterns we hope to study. This involves three or more capture sessions at each of the eight landscapes…
Photo by Adam Hadley
We have accomplished some important research, but there is still much left to do! So far we have captured 187 birds!
Photo by Sarah Hadley
3. We had to design an antenna attachment to read the hummingbirds when they visit our feeder ‘flowers’. This was much harder than it sounds and involved a lot of time quietly watching how the hummingbirds position themselves when they come to feed and more ‘trial and error’ then we would have liked.
Photos by Evan Jackson
4. We ran a series of pollination experiments to continue our quest to find out why hummingbirds can pollinate when we can’t.
5. We laid out sampling designs in four forest patches in order to examine how hummingbirds move among our feeder stations. Each site begins with a central feeder where we captured hummingbirds and then has lines of feeders heading out in four different directions from this point. This design allows us to test how far hummingbirds are moving at sites with different amounts of forest, different forest patch sizes, and through different types of cover (For example: old forest, young forest, pasture, hedgerows).
What have we learned?
So far we only have the readers up at two of our grids. It looks as though the birds are visiting the feeders in both old and young forest and avoiding those in pasture. We will have to see if this pattern holds up as more data comes in. We have detected some individuals moving up to 550 m across our grid.
For the results of the pollination experiment we will have to wait a few of weeks until Adam is back in Oregon and can analyze the flowers we collected. This takes quite a bit of lab work and we have run out of time to do it here in the field.