Rocky Mountain National Park Hummingbird Survey
Rocky Mountain National Park Hummingbird Survey.
TENA ENGELMAN and FRED ENGELMAN, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado Springs, CO.
Five-year volunteer citizen-science initiative project begun in 2003 by two researchers. The purpose is to document Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) hummingbird populations and associated habitat. The survey supports the National Park Service (NPS) Science in the Parks initiative. No NPS funding is involved, although seasonal housing is provided. The survey requires approximately 2,000 hr of field research and report preparation time each year by the researchers. The survey objectives are to collect demographic information for breeding and transitory species; identify movement and dispersal patterns within the park; obtain information on philopatry and longevity; identify suitable habitat; document presence of rare or infrequently seen species; translate collected data into publicly available information for use by park interpretive personnel; prepare formal annual reports for the park; and, recommend additional areas for research. Researchers capture, band, measure, and release hummingbirds in designated locations on both the east and west sides of the Continental Divide. Field research is ongoing for 2005, and the following preliminary results apply to the first half of the study. Approximately 2,200 hummingbirds of four species have been banded and demographic data collected. Two significant foreign encounters have occurred, both involving Broad-tailed Hummingbirds. In the more important instance, a hatch-year female banded in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona in Sep 2003 was encountered in RMNP in Jun 2004. The distance between the two sites is 630 mi, the current record for Broadtailed Hummingbirds. Researchers obtained extensive digital images and video for use by park interpretive personnel. A substantial decline in numbers of Rufous Hummingbirds transiting the park in 2004 was documented. The first Rubythroated Hummingbird to be observed in the park was documented and supporting information submitted to the park and Colorado Bird Records Committee.