News Release

New Research on Island Hummingbirds

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Date: September 29, 2017
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725

 For the October From Shore to Sea lecture Dr. Erin Rankin will discuss new findings on how the variable diet of the island subspecies of Allen’s hummingbird may have contributed to its unique non-migratory behavior.

The island subspecies of Allen’s hummingbird does not migrate seasonally to obtain food like its mainland counterparts. Rankin has found that these high metabolism birds meet their dietary needs by shifting their food sources seasonally when the flowers they primarily feed on are less abundant. 

Rankin’s research is also providing a more comprehensive view of the hummingbird’s role as pollinators and predators on the islands. In her research she uses genetic barcoding to analyze hummingbird droppings in order to determine their food sources along with observing their foraging behavior. 

Rankin has learned that their diets shift significantly from season to season and that insects make up an important part of their diet. She has found that there are gender-based differences in their diet with female Allen’s hummingbirds eating a wider variety of foods than the male birds.

Rankin is an assistant professor of entomology at University of California, Riverside. She has been working on the Channel Islands for the past several years on projects involving the foraging ecology of native hummingbirds and the pollination ecology of rare endemic plants. She earned her B.S. degree from Georgetown University and holds a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from University of California, San Diego. 

The talk will be held on Thursday, October 12, 2017. The From Shore to Sea lecture series is sponsored by Channel Islands National Park to further the understanding of current research on the Channel Islands and surrounding marine waters. The 2017 lecture series will take place at 7:00 pm on the second Thursday of each month, January through December, at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center, 1901 Spinnaker Drive, in Ventura Harbor. The programs are free and open to the public. 

Last updated: September 29, 2017

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