the power of P L A C E
A Place for Research, Old and New
Hummingbird research captures why RMBL’s plans to archive historic data are so important.
In 1971 Dr. Bill Calder (University of Arizona) first came to Gothic. Resembling the hummingbirds he studied, Bill was thin and wiry, had a prominent nose, and moved quickly. He migrated between Gothic and southern Arizona annually, occasionally under his own power (on a bicycle).
The summer of 1989 that I spent working with him and his wife Lorene was among the most fun I have had. They kept a feeder inside a cage just next to Richards Cabin, where they lived. When a hummingbird visited, they would drop a door on the cage, pull the hummingbird out, and use modified forceps to put a band on a tiny leg. They had another feeder with a perch attached to a scale next to it. This allowed us to weigh the hummingbirds and track how their weights changed across the summer.
Birds do it with astonishing aerial speed
What’s it like to watch a tiny male hummingbird soar to about 100 feet in the air and dive at breakneck speed towards the Earth while snapping its tail feathers and flashing its iridescent throat patch in a breathtaking display of lust? Or, more to the point, what’s it like for a female hummingbird? Ask Dr. Cassie Stoddard.
Since 2016, Dr. Stoddard, her postdoctoral research associate Dr. Benedict Hogan, and Princeton students have been observing these showy daredevils at RMBL. What the fearless male broad-tailed hummingbirds (Selasphorus platycercus) do to impress the ladies is especially fascinating to scientists. But Dr. Stoddard’s team is doing more than observing the birds. They are trying to discern exactly how these creatures perform their multimodal courtship display – a thrilling show of speed, sound, and color – simultaneously. No other scientists have described the synchronization of these displays.
People often ask how they can get involved with RMBL. There are many ways and here are a few:
- Docent Program learn more
- Research Volunteers learn more
House a Scientist!
- RMBL is looking for housing in Mt Crested Butte or Crested Butte during the 2019 summer season. If you or someone you know could help, please contact Gesa Michel at firstname.lastname@example.org