Friday, February 29, 2008

The Hummingbird Effect

I'm no scientist, but if I correctly understand the Butterfly Effect -- which is really just an elaborate metaphor to describe a principle of Chaos Theory -- it says that something as seemingly minuscule as the flapping of a butterfly's wings can, over time, grow in magnitude to cause something as monumental as a hurricane.

I don't know about that. I do know that when the ruby-throated hummingbirds begin their annual northern migration around this time of year, I can, in my more whimsical moods, imagine the furious beating of their tiny wings setting in motion a pattern of cause and effect that will eventually dispel the despicably cold weather of a day like, well, a day like today, where the temperature didn't make it above freezing.

Lanny Chambers has been marking the migration of ruby-throats on his website,, for over ten years. Usually around late February you'll see the first little blip, representing a sighting reported by one of his loyal followers, appear in Florida or the northern rim of the Gulf of Mexico. The blips are color coded into two week periods, with the date of the sighting marked to the side. To hummingbird geeks like me, who hang up their feeders in mid April, those blips are as sure a sign of the turning of the season as crocuses and daffodils.
And remember, hummers typically return each season to where they were born or spent the summer before -- the same backyards, the same porches, even the same feeders. So consider this -- one of those blips might be on his way to visit you.

1 comment:

Val Cox said...

wow, I had no idea they returned each year, I'll pay better attention to keeping the feeder full. What a wonderful writer you are.