This Week at Hilton Pond (1-10 June 2012)—“Where Do The Hummingbirds Go, Mr. Hilton?” Operation RubyThroat Heads Back To the Neotropics (2012-13)

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Posted on 12 June 2012 by Bill Hilton Jr.

As you gaze out your window during early June in the eastern U.S. and southern Canada, you're liable to see Ruby-throated Hummingbirds nectaring on flowers or taking sugar water from a feeder you provide. Incredibly, in only five months nearly all those ruby-throats will be long gone, stimulated by short days and long nights to fly south for the winter. So where do your hummingbirds go? No one is really sure--at least not specifically--which is one reason why since 2004 we've led Operation RubyThroat expeditions to band and observe this Neotropical species in Central America. We just completed the on-line itineraries for our 2012-13 trips to eastern and western Costa Rica, Belize, Guatemala, eastern and western Costa Rica, and (for the first time) Nicaragua, so to help you decide which trip you'd like to join our "This Week at Hilton Pond" installment for 1-10 June 2012 includes a summary for each.

Even if you're unable to travel with us for one (or more) of these exciting, educational, and rewarding citizen science expeditions, we hope you'll enjoy reading about our plans and looking at colorful images of tropical flora, fauna, and habitats. To view this latest photo essay and learn how you can be part of it all, please visit

While there don't forget to scroll down for our usual (but less than diverse) list of birds banded and recaptured during the period. We also include a note about our ubiquitous Hilton Pond House Finches and an acknowledgement of a recent contribution in memory of one of our Operation RubyThroat alumni.

Happy (Neotropical) Nature Watching!


P.S. Please "Like" our new Facebook page at for timely updates on nature topics.

Figure 1. More than 125 citizen scientists from the U.S. and Canada have joined us on 17 expeditions to Central America to study Ruby-throated Hummingbirds on their wintering grounds. Participants play valuable roles, including the unfurling and tending of giant mist nets (above); these are used to capture hummingbirds for banding. (Photo copyright Bill Hilton Jr.)



Bill Hilton Jr. is an award-winning educator-naturalist and executive director of non-profit Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History near York, South Carolina USA, where he has banded more than 57,300 birds since 1982. He is the only scientist studying Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) on their wintering grounds in Central America. Check out his Web sites for Hilton Pond Center at and “Operation RubyThroat: the Hummingbird Project” at

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