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Operation RubyThroat & GLOBE


Back in the mid-1990s, when I was first thinking about "Operation 
RubyThroat: The Hummingbird Project," I knew that hummingbirds could 
be used as a "hook" to excite students about learning in science and 
other disciplines. I also knew that students could be part of the 
nationwide network that would supplement hummingbird observations 
made by scientists, banders, and other hummer enthusiasts like those 
on CarolinaBirds.

As an educator-naturalist, I wanted to reach as wide an audience as 
possible, so I created the Operation RubyThroat Web site 
(http://www.rubythroat.org) and made it accessible to everyone. Then 
I started writing grants that would help fund the project and allow 
me to visit schools to recruit teacher and student participants. I 
also looked around for partners that would provide a synergy that 
could help operation RubyThroat meet its mission, and on a trip last 
April to Washington I found a great partner: The GLOBE Program.

GLOBE--which grew out of NOAA--has been around for several years as a 
Web-based mechanism for receiving student-collected data about 
atmosphere/climate, hydrology, soils, and other natural phenomena you 
would expect the weather folks to be interested in. More recently, 
Dr. Dixon Butler, GLOBE's chief scientist, saw the value of looking 
at biology-related phenomena and correlating them with the GLOBE 
data. Bud burst was one of the first life science phenology events to 
be added to GLOBE, and when I described Operation RubyThroat to him 
last spring, Dr. Butler immediately embraced the idea of having 
students collect and submit hummingbird data.

To make the long story shorter, thanks to Dr. Butler and on-going 
assistance from GLOBE staffer Becky Boger, I've developed some 
Special Measurement protocols that align with GLOBE, and I'm pleased 
and proud to announce that as of today, 15 March 2002, those 
protocols are available to GLOBE-certified schools across North and 
Central America.

Students in GLOBE schools will be able to observe Ruby-throated 
Hummingbird ecology, behavior, and migration and report several 
categories of data. They'll be on the lookout for color-marked RTHUs 
and hummers with unusual plumages (albinos, etc.). They'll also watch 
for vagrant hummers of any species, and I promise to report ALL of 
those vagrants to hummingbird banders who may be close by.  :-)

Although a school must have at least one GLOBE-certified teacher to 
submit data electronically to GLOBE, the protocols and data sheets 
are posted on the GLOBE WEB site so that anyone--including 
adults--can read the materials and submit data forms directly to 
Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History via 
mailto:data@rubythroat.org .

To read more about all this, check out 
http://www.rubythroat.org/GLOBEMain.html . Then click on the link 
GLOBE Web site and, if you wish, download the PDF files and join the 
ranks of Operation RubyThroat observers.

Please also encourage teachers you know to investigate the great 
learning opportunity now offered through GLOBE and Operation 
RubyThroat. I'm tremendously excited about the potential for the new 
collaboration as we try to do something new and different here, and I 
greatly value your input and your support.  :-)

Happy Hummingbird Watching!


BILL HILTON JR., "The Piedmont Naturalist"
Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History
1432 DeVinney Road, York, South Carolina 29745 USA
hilton@hiltonpond.org, (803) 684-5852, eFax: (503) 218-0845

Please visit our web sites (courtesy of Comporium.net) at 
http://www.hiltonpond.org and

"Never trust a person too lazy to get up for sunrise or too busy to
watch the sunset."					BHjr.