Trailcam/Hummingbirdfeeders experiment for 3rd grade class

Sandplum1-Bring Sophie back!!!

I've been with GardenWeb since 2001, but this is my first post to this forum. I'll be teaching 3rd grade for the very first time beginning in August. I'd like to start them with the Scientific Method with 3 hummingbird feeders that are identical, except for the colors. In order to see which feeder attracts the most hummingbirds (we may have to break it down by types of hummingbirds, depending on what we see.)

So, my first request is, can you share with me your ideas on feeders? I'm open to the variables being different types of feeders, rather than colors of feeders.

My second question is regarding what type of outdoor camera you might recommend that would record any hummingbirds that might appear any time, day or night. It would also need to withstand the elements.

Thank you in advance for any and all help you provide!


Carol


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ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado

If it were me, I would purchase three of the same feeders and then paint the “colored parts” different colors. They usually have a clear vessel with a colored (usually red) plastic feeder base. I would leave one red and paint the other two different colors, maybe purple (since it’s 1/2 red) and blue (since it’s the other 1/2 of purple) but I might be over thinking that, You could probably do any color combo you want. You would have either make the feeder ports all the same color (other than red) or paint them to match the rest of the base they are on. I would make sure the vessel either matches the base or is clear (some are tinted glass) to remove that variable.

What I wouldn’t do is try to color the water. Colored water can be toxic to hummers.

The tricky part would be to come up with a “control.” If they made a clear feeder base that would be a perfect control but the best you might be able to do is buy a fourth one and make it white.

“Types” of hummers will depend on where you live. If you are east of the Rockies that will be pretty easy since hummingbird species diversity nose dives the further east you go in the US. At moms house right at the base of the Rocky Mountains west of Denver gets 2 species most years, but there are four regularly seen species in Colorado. If you are in the desert Southwest you will have the most diversity. I had as many as 5 species at my feeder in Phoenix, and people in Tucson would see even more. Folks in places like Wisconsin are only likely to see ruby throated.

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Sandplum1-Bring Sophie back!!!

Thank you, Zach. My fleeting first thought was the clear vs. red food, but I knew better. I'm in East central Oklahoma and our most common hummers are red throated (at least, the ones that come to our coral honeysuckle.)

Any advice on a camera?

Carol

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ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado

Yeah I don’t know of any other regularly seen species in Oklahoma besides ruby throated hummers, anything else would be considered outside it’s normal range.

I don’t know what a good camera would be for this project, maybe a video camera you can run for several hours per day rather than taking photographs. A trail cam would take photos every time a hummer flies by but they may not actually be using the feeder. But also don’t discount in-person visual observation as well. If you have hummers, they are pretty regular customers. You could take the class outside first thing i the morning and spend 15-20 minutes observing the feeders and counting the number of visits per color. In the “wildlife professional” world, we still rely on “in person” surveys for monitoring everything from endangered black footed ferrets to vegetation cover. In fact the only survey that I can think of where the “observers” relied on “technology” and no person being physically present were bat surveys where a device was set up to record sounds and the recordings were then analyzed afterwards (this was actually conducted by a team of local high school students and was a really cool and well done project).

Another factor to think about with the survey would be that hummers are extremely territorial. If you have multiple hummers, one may spend more time chasing the others away from the feeder(s) than actually feeding. That would definitely reduce the total “number of visits.” If that one shows a clear preference for guarding one color over the others that can also be useful data as well. Spacing the feeders out over a larger area would help alleviate that and you’d be able to tell if that hummer was guarding one feeder or all of them.

It might also be interesting to note male vs. females and see if there is my correlation between sex and color preference (or lack of preference). I might be getting too much in the weeds with this haha.

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Sandplum1-Bring Sophie back!!!

LOL, that's fine, Zach....I like the way you think. I have some time to ruminate before school starts and I do love food for thought. Thanks so very much for your help with our experiment!

Carol


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juliet799

Top-fill feeders are super easy to use as they can be easily refilled right from their lid. This option from Perky-Pet is an excellent pick for homes with high hummingbird traffic as it can hold up to 24 ounces of nectar in its glass reservoir. Plus, the convenient lid and wide mouth make it easy to fill up the basin and top off your nectar as needed. The four feeding port flowers are made of soft, flexible plastic, which provides hummingbirds with a life-like feel as they drink.

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