The Western Hummingbird Partnership (WHP) is a developing network of partners collaborating to build an effective and sustainable hummingbird conservation program through science-based monitoring, research, habitat restoration/enhancement, and education/outreach efforts. WHP goals are to support projects, develop programs, and build partnerships that investigate what hummingbirds need to survive, successfully reproduce, and maintain thriving populations; and then to inform land managers, policy makers, and the public so habitats can be managed in ways that help hummingbirds and their communities thrive. In addition to directly influencing the conservation of hummingbirds and their habitats, the WHP can also contribute to an agency’s ability to meet their greater goals/priorities for conservation of ecosystems in general.

There are indications that at least some hummingbird populations are declining. Partners in Flight (PIF) has identified three of the 13 neotropical migrants that breed in the USA and Canada and over-winter in Mexico as Watch List Species—Costa’s (Calypte costae), Calliope (Stellula calliope), and Rufous (Selasphorus rufus)—and a fourth—Lucifer (Calothorax lucifer)—as a Stewardship Species (Rich et al 2004). Based upon data from the Breeding Bird Survey since the mid-1960s, Rufous Hummingbird has an estimated 63% population loss and is considered a common species in steep decline by both PIF (Berlanga et al. 2010) and Audubon (National Audubon 2008). The USFWS 2008 Birds of Conservation Concern also listed Costa’s, Calliope, Lucifer, and Rufous as well as Allen’s (Selasphorus sasin), Blue-throated (Lampornis clemenciae), and Buff-bellied (Amazilia yucatanensis); seven species in total nationally. In the recently released PIF Tri-national Vision, eight additional Mexican species are identified as species of high conservation concern in North America (Berlanga et al. 2010). They are Shortcrested Coquette (Lophornis brachylophus), Mexican Woodnymph (Thalurania ridgwayi), Blue-capped Hummingbird (Eupherusa cyanophrys), White-tailed Hummingbird (Eupherusa poliocerca), Mexican Sheartail (Doricha eliza), Emerald-chinned Hummingbird (Abeillia abeillei), Garnet-throated Hummingbird (Lamprolaima rhami), and Wine-throated Hummingbird (Atthis ellioti). 

 

In PIF’s Tri-national Vision, the most steeply declining species in temperate forests are birds dependent on disturbed and early successional habitat. Managing a mosaic of age classes of forests, as well as maintaining natural disturbance regimes such as fire, will be necessary to reverse declines of many forest birds (Berlanga et al. 2010). Since hummingbirds depend upon a variety of age classes of forests for nesting and foraging, addressing their conservation needs could provide land managers with a way to develop the needed mosaics of forest age classes and do this with the valuable support of a diversity of conservation professionals and volunteers. Thus, the WHP can also contribute to an agency’s, a land manager’s, and/or a landowner’s ability to meet their greater goals/priorities for conservation of ecosystems in general.

Despite their diversity and extreme popularity with humans, hummingbirds have received relatively little attention from a conservation standpoint. Recent evidence from the Breeding Bird Survey and other sources suggest worrisome population declines in some hummingbird species that breed in the western United States and Canada and migrate south to winter in Mexico and beyond. For these, plus many additional North American species restricted to Mexico, scientists do not have sufficient information to determine the causes of observed declines, assess population trends, or provide a full understanding of their ranges, movements, and natural histories.

Since most North American hummingbirds live in and rely on forests, the United States Forest Service (USFS) is an important partner for hummingbird conservation. The mission of the USFS is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The USFS currently manages resources on 191 million acres throughout the USA, but relies heavily on lands under other ownerships to support conservation of shared species, including migratory birds.

Within the National Forests, conservation of migratory birds focuses on providing a diversity of habitat conditions at multiple spatial scales and ensuring that bird conservation is addressed when planning for land management activities. USFS International Programs provides assistance in protection and sound management of the world’s resources under the International Forestry Cooperation Act of 1990 (PL 101-513 Title VI; 6 U.S.C.4501-4505, November 5, 1990, as amended 1992 and 1994). Specifically, the Wings Across the Americas Program (WATA) represents an integrated and collaborative approach to bird, bat, butterfly, and dragonfly conservation internationally and across all USFS program areas. Concern for the health and sustainability of hummingbirds prompted WATA to approach the USFS Pacific Southwest Region (R5) for initiation of an international effort to address this concern. Based on partner recommendations and WATA funding, R5 partnered with the Hummingbird Monitoring Network (HMN) to develop the Western Hummingbird Project, which is now the Western Hummingbird Partnership (WHP).

In April 2009, scientists, land managers, and conservationists from Mexico, the United States, and Canada came together for a multi-day workshop in Tucson, Arizona, funded by USFS International Programs and HMN, to discuss the conservation needs of North American hummingbirds. This first major meeting of the Western Hummingbird Partnership included 82 representatives from 34 diverse institutions that included government agencies, non-profit conservation organizations, universities, and individuals. The workshop goals were to: create a common understanding about the state of knowledge and conservation of hummingbirds; identify gaps in our knowledge; and develop recommendations for key actions and projects that will best use the available resources to advance hummingbird conservation. The workshop culminated with a partner meeting at El Coronado Ranch in the Chiricahua Mountains where conclusions and recommendations were made by the group. The information generated at the April 2009 Workshop was used to create a Western Hummingbird Partnership Action Plan and a variety of projects and activities promoting hummingbird conservation already underway became high priority action items for WHP.

Environment for the Americas (EFTA), a non-profit organization that works to promote bird conservation across the Western Hemisphere, joined WHP in 2006. Because of the organization’s work across borders and experience managing collaboration, EFTA began coordinating WHP in 2015.

Partners are key to the success of WHP. The participation of organizations, both federal and non-federal, contributes expertise from biologists, educators, and researchers who inform the activities of WHP. Long-term partners include Klamath Bird Observatory, Point Blue Conservation Science, and the University of Guadalajara. U.S. Forest Service International Programs has provided essential financial support, expertise, and participation.

The conservation programs developed will include science-based monitoring, research, habitat restoration/enhancement, and education/outreach, including a strong integration with citizen scientists, with the mission of working together to maintain thriving hummingbird populations and their habitats. The focus on hummingbirds, a particularly charismatic group of species, will contribute to the conservation of important habitats and can serve as an indicator of the impacts of a changing climate on wildlife. With clearly defined partners and focus, the WHP has the potential to have far-reaching conservation impacts.

Environment for the Americas (EFTA) coordinates the Western Hummingbird Partnership. Environment for the Americas was created as a result of World Migratory Bird Day’s success. Created in 1993, the celebration has grown to become much more than a one day event. Over 700 events are now hosted from South America to Canada, materials are available year-round, and other programs have been developed to increase bird conservation education.

Klamath Bird Observatory is a scientific non-profit organization that achieves bird conservation in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the migratory ranges of the birds of our region. We developed our award-winning conservation model in the ruggedly beautiful and wildlife-rich Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion of southern Oregon and northern California, and we now apply this model more broadly to care for our shared birds throughout their annual cycles. Emphasizing high caliber science and the role of birds as indicators of the health of the land, we specialize in cost-effective bird monitoring and research projects that improve natural resource management. Also, recognizing that conservation occurs across many fronts, we nurture a conservation ethic in our communities through our outreach and educational programs. We owe our success to committed donors, volunteers, staff, and conservation partners who demonstrate that each of us can contribute to a legacy of abundant bird populations and healthy land, air, and water.

Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO) advances conservation through scientific research on birds and ecosystems. Point Blue is a rapidly growing, non-profit organization with expertise in avian ecology, population biology, spatial ecology, ecosystem science, ecological modeling, conservation applications (including endangered species recovery, land and ocean management, ecological restoration, inventory and monitoring, and policy), and public education. Point Blue plays a lead role regionally, nationally, and internationally in applying science to address critical conservation issues. Point Blue will focus its work over the next 5-10 years on the effects of environmental change (e.g., climate change, habitat change, food-web change) on birds and ecosystems, using long-term data, quantitative analysis, and modeling to develop science-based solutions to address urgent environmental challenges.

The US Forest Service — National Forest System, State & Private Forestry, Research & Development and International Programs — are working together and with a wide range of partners across landscapes here in the United States and overseas to conserve birds, bats and butterflies as well as their habitats.

A science-based, project-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of hummingbird diversity and abundance throughout the Americas. Our goal is to help improve the chances for the long-term survival of hummingbirds in the New World. To do this, our research program is science-based because it is a proven method of discovery. Much is still unknown about hummingbirds and what they need to survive. We are project-driven because it keeps us focused on results and provides a way to prioritize effort.

UDG is a public university, autonomous and structured as a net of university centers and middle high education, with a presence among the entire state of Jalisco and with a bicentenary tradition. To generate an ambient of learning for all the people interested in their formation and develop their analytic skills, professional competencies and social responsibility is the UDG task and compromise.

UNAM has excelled in many areas of research and houses many of Mexico’s premier research institutions. Scientific research at UNAM is divided between faculties, institutes, centers and schools, and tends to focus on multidisciplinary problems particularly relevant to Mexico and the developing world.

The BLM manages one in every 10 acres of land in the United States, and approximately 30 percent of the Nation’s minerals. These lands and minerals are found in every state in the country and encompass forests, mountains, rangelands, arctic tundra, and deserts. Their mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

    ECCC informs Canadians about protecting and conserving our natural heritage, and ensuring a clean, safe and sustainable environment for present and future generations.

    John Alexander
    Director
    Klamath Bird Observatory

    As the co-founder of the Klamath Bird Observatory, John works with its Board of Directors, Research Advisor, Science Director, Outreach and Science Communications Specialist, and Executive Administrator. His specialization is in participatory action research, ecological monitoring and research using standard bird and habitat sampling techniques, the use of scientific results for overcoming land stewardship challenges and the development of applied science tools and teaching materials for natural resource management professionals, community members, and students of all ages. To complement John’s multitude of specializations, his achievements include the Partners in Flight International Leadership Award, the Joint Fire Science Program’s Best Scientist-Manager Partnership Award, and the US Forest Service’s International Wings Across the Americas – the Ducks Unlimited Taking Wing Awards. Currently, John participates in Partners in Flight, North American Bird Conservation Initiative, Avian Knowledge Network, North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative, Intermountain West Joint Venture, US Department of Agriculture Federal Research Advisory Committee, North American Bird Banding Council, Western Bird Banding Association, and Ashland Rotary Community Support Foundation.

    Christine Bishop 
    Research Scientist
    Environment and Climate Change Canada

    Christine is a research scientist with Environment and Climate Change Canada and a professor at Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia. Her research examines the effects of  multiple stressors  on wildlife populations such as environmental contaminants, habitat restoration, and road mortality focusing on birds, reptiles and amphibians, especially Species at Risk, in wetlands and riparian areas.  She is a past president of the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club, and worked for the federal government on the Great Lakes and many wetland and agricultural environments from 1989 to 2000. During the past 30 years, she has combined her research interests  with many on-the-ground conservation projects involving habitat restoration and preservation in Ontario and British Columbia, Canada. She has co-supervised many graduate students, published 85+ peer reviewed journal articles and co-edited books on Wildlife Toxicology, Ecotoxicology of  amphibians and reptiles, and the Ecology, Conservation, and Status of Reptiles in Canada.

    Susan Bonfield 
    Director
    Environment for the Americas

    Susan received her B.S. in Biology from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, an M.S. in Ecology, Fisheries, and Wildlife from University of Michigan, and a PhD in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources from Colorado State University. Throughout her many years of research she has conducted bird surveys, run banding stations, and been a part of bird research in Maine, Virginia, California, and Colorado. Susan has also created education programs in the U.S. and Mexico, assisted with workshops on bird monitoring and conservation in both countries, taught basic identification courses, and led a course for the USFWS National Conservation Training Center. In addition, she has worked with a variety of conservation organizations over the years, including the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, in addition to serving as a consultant for the Continental Divide Land Trust and other groups. However, one of her greatest achievements to date is Susan’s foundation of the organization Environment for the Americas (EFTA) and through EFTA, her impact on bird conservation and migratory bird education.

    Greg Butcher
    Migratory Species Coordinator
    USFS

    Within the Migratory Species Program, Greg works to promote the conservation of birds, bats and monarch butterflies. Most of the work is done south of the US border which supplements the Forest Service conservation efforts in the US. Greg is also a longtime member of the Sonoran Joint Venture (SJV) Management Board where he aids in the Forest Service plan for full-annual-cycle conservation. In addition, Greg is a member of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, and Partners in Flight’s landbird conservation program. Recently, Greg has been involved in the development of the Tropical Dry Forest Bird Conservation Business planning process of Partners in Flight. The conservation business is an expansion upon Greg’s conservation work through SJV.

    Cheryl Carrothers 
    Wildlife Program Leader
    USFS
    Cheryl, a founding member of WHP, received her degree in Wildlife Management at Arizona State University beginning her dedication to protecting wildlife and aiding in conservation. After receiving her degree, she worked for the Arizona Game and Fish Department as a Regional Wildlife Assistant and then Wildlife Manager, and finally has been working with the US Forest Service since 1989. Now as a Regional Wildlife Program Leader in Alaska, she provides wildlife and rare species program management, training, advice, and support to personnel on the Chugach and Tongass National Forests as well as coordination regionally and nationally. Cheryl’s other emphasis areas include conservation of migratory shorebirds, hummingbirds and their habitats, bear/human safety and as an instructor on USFS national NEPA and ESA training cadres.

    Sarahy Contreras
    Professor
    Universidad de Guadalajara en México

    Sarahy is a professor and researcher at the Department of Ecology and Natural Resources-IMECBIO, University of Guadalajara-CUCSUR. Her expertise is mainly in conservation, management, and restoration of bird habitats in subtropical temperate mountain forests. Throughout her years as a professor thus far, she has coordinated and developed several educational projects, social networks and scientific research on terrestrial bird ecology and conservation in western Mexico, especially with hummingbirds and passerines. Sarahy has also received national recognition by MUNIC (National Exhibition of Scientific Images Mexico) 2017 for the scientific video entitled “Great Warriors: Hummingbirds and Fire” and the Wings Across the Americas award given to the Western Hummingbird Partnership, by the US Forest Service in 2017.

    Geoff Geupel
    Director
    Emerging Programs and Partnership Group Point Blue Conservation Science

    Geoffrey had begun his dedication to birding at Lewis and Clark College and eventually through his work at the Point Reyes Bird Observatory (PRBO) in the Coastal Scrub Ecology Program at Palomarin Field Station in 1980. Through PRBO he participated in the Antarctica research program on penguin populations at King George Island. Now, at Point Blue Geoffrey works with programs throughout North America in order to assess the impacts of restoration, land use, grazing, and climate change on bird populations and ecosystems. Geoffrey currently serves on the National Partners in Flight’s (US) Executive Steering Committee (as the recipient of the 2010 National US Partners in Flight Conservation Leadership Award), the Science Committee and as chair of California Partners in Flight. He participates regularly in the Bird Habitat Joint Ventures and Landscape Conservation Cooperatives of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, including serving as chair of the Sonoran Joint Venture Technical Team. Geoffrey is also on the review panel of California State Parks Vehicular Recreation Area Habitat Monitoring System (HMS2) and Western Bird Banding Associations grants committee.

    Jamie Ratliff
    Wildlife Biologist
    USFS, Region 6 Avian Conservation Center of Excellence

    Jamie began her career in avian conservation with a master’s research project that examined the habitat use and correlates of survival in a reintroduced population of Mountain Quail. She went on to pursue a career as a wildlife biologist for the Forest Service where she currently serves as the Region 6 representative to the Western Working Group of Partners in Flight and the Western Hummingbird Partnership. She is also responsible for the delivery, training, and incorporation of recent scientific information and decision support tools into Forest Service planning efforts within Oregon and Washington.

    FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

    What is The Western Hummingbird Partnership?

    The Western Hummingbird Partnership (WHP) is a developing network of partners collaborating to build an effective and sustainable hummingbird conservation program through science-based monitoring, research, habitat restoration/enhancement, and education/outreach efforts. WHP goals are to support projects, develop programs, and build partnerships that investigate what hummingbirds need to survive, successfully reproduce, and maintain thriving populations; and then to inform land managers, policy makers, and the public so habitats can be managed in ways that help hummingbirds and their communities thrive. In addition to directly influencing the conservation of hummingbirds and their habitats, the WHP can also contribute to an agency’s ability to meet their greater goals/priorities for conservation of ecosystems in general.

    What information can I find on this website?

    The website of the Western Hummingbird Partnership is a clearinghouse for information relative to hummingbirds and hummingbird conservation. Our goals for this website are to (1) discover, archive, present, and offer visualizations of information on hummingbirds, (2) help apply this information to habitat management, restoration projects, and conservation efforts, and (3) identify and highlight the issues and opportunities that are important to hummingbird conservation. Go ahead and explore this website!