|Photos courtesy of Holly Ernest.|
Hummingbirds provide vital ecological functions, including pollination and eating insects. As ecosystem sentinels, as they travel among flowers and prey on thousands of tiny insects, they can also tell us a lot about the health of the environment. Even more special is that they are stunningly beautiful birds, with bright iridescent colors. We need to learn their population numbers, biology, and health status in order to better conserve them. There are currently very little information on their diseases, population health, genetic diversity and population structure for the hummingbird species breeding and migrating through Wyoming, Colorado, and the Rocky Mountain region, and the Hummingbird Health Program is helping to change that.
Dr. Holly Ernest will talk about the Hummingbird Health Program at University of Wyoming, her team’s research studies in the field and in the DNA lab, and how members of the interested public can help. She will have a demonstration of the field equipment they use to gently capture, examine, measure, sample, then release these special tiny birds that weigh less than a US nickel. Check out their work at http://www.wildlifegenetichealth.org/ and click on the hummingbird.