2000 a great year for Texas hummingbird watchers

Hummingbird watchers were treated to an exceptional year in 2000 with observations of 17 of the 18 species documented in Texas, according to the Texas Hummingbird Roundup survey. Only the green-breasted mango hummingbird was absent. “It was a great year for the program,” said Mark Klym, coordinator of the Texas Hummingbird Roundup with Texas Parks and Wildlife, “and we are learning a lot about hummingbirds and their ecology through our roundup volunteers.” In its seventh year, the Texas Hummingbird Roundup enlists volunteers to conduct backyard surveys that help biologists learn more about the range, distribution, favored sites and feeding habits of the 18 hummingbird species found in Texas. The roundup enables hummingbird enthusiasts to conduct field research and report their findings to TPW biologists. Volunteers are provided survey forms, feeder tips, scarlet sage seeds and “A Quick Reference Guide to Texas Hummingbirds” in return for a $6 donation. Upon completion of the survey, roundup participants receive a decal and a newsletter that documents the results of the year’s roundup. Anyone who is interested in hummingbirds is encouraged to participats, Klym said. Last year, 1,148 volunteers participated in the roundup, with 38 observers in 19 counties having hummingbirds visit over the winter months. Six species of hummingbirds recorded for the state visit primarily in the winter, and as more Texans keep their feeders active, more reports are received about these birds. According to Klym, the most common species in Texas by far is the ruby-throated hummingbird. Males are dark-green-backed with a ruby-red throat over a white breast. Females are dull-green-backed and white-breasted. Although found primarily in the eastern part of the state, large numbers of migrant ruby-throats along the Texas coast bring throngs of birdwatchers to Rockport in September. While ruby-throated hummingbird migrations attract attention in the east, it is the large number of species that draws hummingbird enthusiasts to West Texas. In the Davis Mountains, as many as nine species may be seen in late summer and early fall. Rarities such as the Berylline hummingbird and the Costa’s hummingbird add to the excitement, Klym said. Roundup participants also answer questions about the favorite plants of hummingbirds. This year, as in all previous years, the strong preference was for the salvia species, with lantana, coral honeysuckle, hibiscus, Turk’s cap and trumpet vine all showing frequently on the reports. These plants are all common native Texas plants, while hummingbird bush, a commonly sold non-native plant, placed fourth on the list. Observers reported shrimp plant, a group of plants commonly used by hummingbirds in Central America, very infrequently. Surprises in last year’s census included Lucifer hummingbird and white-eared hummingbird, traditional West Texas species, observed and photographed in Fredericksburg and a late fall broad-billed hummingbird in Howard County. In West Texas, a rare visit by a Costa’s hummingbird was recorded in Brewster County, while Jeff Davis County was visited again by a Berylline hummingbird. Information on participating in the Texas Hummingbird Roundup can be found on the web (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/nature/birding/humrunup.htm). For more information contact Mark Klym at (800) 792-1112.

Leave a Comment