Visitors from Mexico- Scientists and Hummingbirds!

Capulin Volcano National Monument (CAVO) is of course known for its nearly intact cinder cone volcano, but that’s not all that makes this park so special! CAVO is on the migratory path of four species of hummingbirds that visit us from every summer: calliope, broad-tailed, black-chinned, and rufous. Biologists here at the park have been banding and collecting pollen samples from hummingbirds for over 6 years. We do this in order to study their habits and eating preferences, and to monitor how those may shift as climate changes the phenology (the timing of biological events, such as flowering) of their nectar sources.

Pollen under the microscope, physical characteristics can be used to identify which plant species this belongs to.

 

This last week we welcomed Professor Sarahy Contreras-Martinez, a hummingbird expert from the University of Guadalajara in Mexico, to participate in our hummingbird monitoring program. We went over our methods and protocols, working together to brainstorm ways of making our monitoring even more scrupulous and efficient. In addition, we were able to test multiple methods of pollen collection, including testing various recipes for the glycerol jelly we use to collect pollen.  It was a real treat to be able to collaborate with someone with such tremendous knowledge and experience when it comes to our special visitors. The Natural Resource staff here at Capulin Volcano is excited to continue building partnerships that reach all corners of the Americas.

 

Collecting pollen from a hummingbird using glycerol jelly mounting media

 

Feeding a hummingbird after collecting pollen and and measurements.

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