Posted by: Dave Neads | May 8, 2008

Global Warming, Cooling and Hummingbirds

I just read the other day that new climate models show short term cooling trends buried within the general upwards climb of global temperatures.

It has to do with shifting ocean currents and their effect on rain and circulation patterns.

This spring here in the ARK certainly confirms that analysis. We have been recording the arrival of the first hummingbird for 22 years. He ( it is always a male) usually shows up between April 18th and 23rd. I remember one year, down at the “Glad Cab”, (where we lived while building our present home), being strafed several times one spring afternoon until the feeder was hung on the old hame we used for such purposes. After that we always made sure we have the feeder up and hanging by the 18th—it’s safer that way!

The first hummer is joined a couple of days later by another male, which then begins the usual aerial battles, then another male appears in the next day or two and finally, a few females come to check the summer accommodation. This sequence never varies; the process is the same each year.

But the arrival times do change. One year the first hummer arrived on April 9th, so we had to scramble to find the feeder, make the solution and put out the food. On the other end we have had arrivals as late as April 26

This year things were quote cold, with minus 7 or 8 each night and the snow and ice taking forever to disappear. We put out the feeder on the usual date and as the days went by we started to become concerned. By the 30th of April we really began to worry. Maybe the whole flock of hummingbirds that know our feeding station—the only one for many kilometers—had been wiped out.

Rosemary sent out a few emails, and yes, others had noticed late arrivals, but at least theirs were there. Each night we would bring the feeder in to stop it from freezing, and put it out early in the morning, hoping to catch the first arrival.

I was in the office on the phone about 10 in the morning on May 1st, when the first hummer flew into the window, trying to get at my red sweatshirt. What a relief to see that little guy! I alerted Rosemary, and a few minutes later she reported that he’d arrived at the feeder, drinking and drinking and drinking.

So, a late cold spring, as part of global warming, caused our hummers to be 8 days late. I wonder where they hung out for that extra week. Did they sit on the coast checking the forecast on the web? Did they sniff the oncoming winds? What did they do?

Because the very day it warmed up, was the very day the first one arrived, a little bird with a big mystery.


  1. […] Dave Neads wrote an interesting post today on Global Warming, Cooling and HummingbirdsHere’s a quick excerptSo, a late cold spring, as part of global warming, caused our hummers to be 8 days late. I wonder where they hung out for that extra week. Did they sit on the coast checking the forecast on the web? Did they sniff the oncoming winds? … […]

  2. […] […]

  3. Mine are very, very late this year.
    I haven’t seen them yet and am starting to really worry. I’ve had the feeders out for over two weeks.
    Glad yours finally showed. 🙂

  4. Tina:
    Still not arrived? We have abut six so far

    I love those little guys, so feisty

    Has anyone else noticed late or no shows?

  5. They finally arrived on Sunday. Actually, only one really small male so far. I’m hoping the others are hot on his trail.
    It was a nice Mother’s Day gift.

  6. Tina:

    Can’t do better than a hummer for mother’s day, must be your icon…

    Swallows came back yesterday, now the whole family is here for the summer, such a mystical time…


  7. I’m from TN. By now I would have hundreds of Hummingbirds visiting all my feeders and flowers. All I have is a few. Migratory birds and bees run off the geomegnegtic pull of the earth. The electromagnegtic fields due to the cell phones and other gadgets have effected the birds and bees and other animals. To put it simply. they have lost thier way. Low frequency waves in the air have thrown their flight pattern off. Bees can’t find their hives and birds can’t find their way. I believe that is what’s happening to our bee population too.There is always a price to pay for technology and I believe we are paying that price.

  8. Last year we had as many as 35 at one time and this year we have about 4. Is it possible that storms and bad weather killed many of them? We live in northeastern AL.

  9. We have very few hummingbird this year. Normally I have to make feed for 5 feeders every couple of days. Feed is going bad and has to be replaced there is so very few hummingbirds. I had large numbers of hummingbirds each year and this is the first time in 30 years that I had so few. I am very concerned with what has happen to them. They just did not come back this year.

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