Operation RubyThroat

January 1st, 1999 - January 1st, 1999 | PROJECT

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (RTHU), Archilochus colubris, are the most widely distributed of the 339 species of hummingbirds, occurring in all ten countries of North and Central America. They come frequently to nectar plants and backyard sugar water feeders and are easily observed. Nonetheless, many aspects of RTHU natural history are not well understood, so “Operation RubyThroat: The Hummingbird Project” has teamed with EarthTrek to allow citizen scientists to collect data about RTHU migration and nesting. Operation RubyThroat has been in operation since 1984 as a outreach initiative of Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History in York, South Carolina USA. The project is also affiliated with The GLOBE Program, through which K-12 teachers and students make hummingbird observations and submit data through the GLOBE Web site. Now, through EarthTrek, adult citizen scientists and independent students also can contribute important data to the overall Operation RubyThroat project. Principal Investigator for Operation RubyThroat is Bill Hilton Jr., an internationally known educator-naturalist recognized by Discover Magazine as one of the top ten citizen scientists. Each winter Bill takes groups of adult citizen scientists to Central America to help with hands-on studies of RTHU on their wintering grounds. These trips to Central America are coordinated through Holbrook Travel, one of EarthTrek's concept partners; while in the Neotropics participants continue to collect RTHU data to earn additional EarthTrek points through participation in Operation RubyThroat. To learn about these successes—or to find out how you can join Bill on one of his exciting trips in 2010 or beyond—please visit the Operation RubyThroat Web site. You may also wish to keep abreast of hummingbird activities and other natural history happenings by subscribing to "This Week at Hilton Pond," a regular series of award-winning photo essays written by Bill and available on line through the Hilton Pond Web site.

Project Website(s)

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Project Products


Team Members

Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History, Author, Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History


Audience: Adults | Elementary School Children (6-10) | Middle School Children (11-13) | Scientists | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | Life science
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Citizen Science Programs | Public Programs