Detecting how weather, plant phenology and abundance of available nectar influence hummingbird migration.
Susan Wethington, Hummingbird Monitoring Network
With the grant of 2 licenses of Wildlife Acoustics Kaleidoscope Pro 4.1 software with acoustic Cluster Analysis, the Hummingbird Monitoring Network (HMN) could now analyze recordings taken in fields of hummingbird-visited flowers during southbound migration. The science objectives of the study are to determine how weather, plant phenology and abundance of available nectar influence hummingbird migration. The community objectives of the study are to employ and engage high school students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) activities.
In 2013 and 2014, we recorded daytime activity of hummingbirds in 7 flower patches for 5 weeks during southbound migration in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona. In 2015 and 2016, we worked with Songscope software to build recognizers of hummingbird sounds. This effort had limited success and we were anxious to learn the Kaleidoscope software. During spring semester 2017, Patagonia High School students easily learned how to use the Kaleidoscope software and began identifying clusters with hummingbird chirp notes, vocalizations, and wing trills. By the end of this semester's program, students had iteratively defined clusters and were beginning to refine the classifiers that identify hummingbird chirp notes and vocalizations to species. The refinement of the classifier will continue during fall semester with the goal of having complete classifiers for the three hummingbird species known to have used these flower patches. Upon completion of the hummingbird classifiers, HMN's science collaborators will complete the analyses for the study.
Building classifiers with the Kaleidoscope software was an excellent project for high school students. They became proficient at identifying hummingbird sounds and classifying clusters into different vocalization categories. Our workflow was somewhat unique because it was multi-threaded. Two students, each using a license of Kaleidoscope, built classifiers from different recordings. We, then, wanted to combine the classifiers and re-run the cluster analyzer to continue refining the classifiers. We were unable to figure out how to do this, so we contacted Wildlife Acoustic's technical support team and worked with Chris Warren. He quickly helped identify how to combine the efforts as well as answered additional questions that arose throughout the semester.
We think passive recordings are an excellent field technique; have encouraged others to use it as well as engage high school students to help build the classifiers. We thank Wildlife Acoustics for this grant and particularly thank Chris Warren for his timely and extremely helpful guidance as we learned how to use Kaleidoscope.
No progress has been made with this project since the last report. Building the hummingbird classifiers are part of a STEM program with Patagonia Union High School. At the end of the program last March, students had iteratively defined clusters and were beginning to refine the classifiers to identify hummingbird chip notes and vocalizations to species. Due to lack of funding for the PASEO program (Patagonia After School Employment Opportunities), it was not offered to students this Fall semester. The high school student, Nick Botz, who mastered Kaleidoscope, is an accomplished musician and strong science student and will be working with HMN from late November to January. We expect to complete building the hummingbird classifiers by the end of his employment. In 2018, we will begin integrating the results of Kaleidoscope with the environmental data to identify the weather/climate factors influencing hummingbird migration.