To Kill a Hummingbird: Global Warming to Blame for Disappearing Birds

Global warming, once thought a crack theory, a portent of doom muttered by conspiracy theorists and assorted New Age naysayers, is now globally recognised as a terrible, apocalyptic challenge. A mass indictment of mankind’s folly, which we are rapidly running out of time to put right.


But even if one is accustomed to hearing of, to speaking of global warming in these vast, planetary terms, it can still come as a shock to hear of on the local level, affecting real lives in the here and now – especially when it turns on one of two of the most delicate, beautiful creatures on our planet.


But that is exactly what is happening in the Rocky Mountains of the USA, where the hummingbird and the glacier lily – two species of breathtaking grace – have been thrown out of sync by rising temperatures, threatening the hummingbirds’ existence in the region.


The problem is the heat. The tally, yellow glacier lily comes into bloom when the temperature is right. But with temperatures soaring ever higher, it’s getting hot enough much, much too early: these days, the flowers bloom 17 days earlier than they did in the 1970s. Which is bad news for migratory hummingbirds, which rely on the glacier lilies as a source of nectar when the birds migrate north to their spring breeding sites.

Glacier lily

“In some years,” explains Amy McKinney of the University of Maryland, “the lilies have already bloomed by the time the first hummingbird lands.”


If current trends continue, it could be a mere twenty years before the hummingbirds are arriving too late to get the glacier lilies in bloom altogether; and then, we might not be seeing hummingbirds in the Western Rockies any more.

1 response to To Kill a Hummingbird: Global Warming to Blame for Disappearing Birds

#1 Robert on Jun 07 2012 at 12:24 PM

I am one of those who thinks that global warming is a continuation of a marketing ploy which relies on the reader's/listener's gullibility or a close relationship to one of those bankers who keeps on making all sorts of trades which they do not understand.And with all due deference, the photo of your charming yellow glacier lily is white, while I have to accept that it is possible for a humming bird to migrate, I do find it at the edge of credibility to believe that it goes via the Rockies. Assuming it does, then what triggers the migration from it's homeland (where is that exactly?) to the next place of abode (where is that exactly?)What does it do on the way back, because as sure as eggs are eggs the white/yellow glacier lily will definitely not be blooming on it's return.Finally, global warming, if it exists at all, would not happen with similar augmentations of temperature all over the world, so the poor (if mythical) humming bird will be in trouble if the weather is warmer or even colder in it's place of origin and it's starting off date is either too late or too early for the multi coloured glacier lily, especially if it is not the normal temperature in the Rockies as well.All things considered it is a miracle of nature that this variety of humming bird has survived at all.Final question, when you found the referral to the hummingbird on the net, it was not dated 1st April perhaps?had