Western Hummingbird Partnership

EDUCATION

The highly charismatic nature of hummingbirds and the corresponding public interest in them provides a strong basis for successfully integrating public outreach, environmental education, and citizen science components into conservation efforts for these species. While the current gaps in our knowledge about many of the ecological attributes of hummingbirds can present a challenge for the design of education and outreach programs, they also represent an opportunity to involve the public in collecting valuable basic ecology information and to become invested in hummingbird conservation. Through the WHIN, the WHP seeks to make credible knowledge about hummingbirds available and to engage wide audiences through programs that address gaps in our scientific understanding of these species and the conservation challenges they face.

Given the migratory nature of many hummingbirds in North America and the large number of species concentrated in Central and South America, education and outreach efforts should focus on the need to conserve all pertinent hummingbird habitats, including breeding areas, wintering areas, and migration corridors. Each of the major conservation concerns identified for hummingbirds (climate change, invasive species, and habitat loss) span hummingbirds’ ranges, and successful conservation initiatives will need to address these challenges throughout the Americas. This will necessitate an international approach and require partnerships between many different groups to be effective. With such a widely varying (birders, ranchers, land managers, researchers, students, community representatives, and others) and culturally diverse audience, design of outreach and education programs must be targeted to specific audiences to be effective.

In addition to the acknowledged gaps in our scientific understanding of many hummingbird species, there appears to be a lack of knowledge among much of the public about the conservation challenges facing hummingbirds, despite a widespread appreciation for these species. These gaps in public knowledge span the spectrum from broad scale issues such as a lack of understanding about the migratory nature of many hummingbirds (and thus the need to support conservation efforts throughout their range), to more specific issues such as the impacts of hummingbird feeders (and the need to properly maintain them). Furthermore, there seem to be some audience-specific knowledge gaps related to hummingbird conservation and public outreach, environmental education, citizen science. The scientific community may not be fully aware of the current state of our knowledge about hummingbirds and their associated conservation challenges.