What's happening to California's hummingbirds? Rising temperatures threaten their source of food

Imagine going to your neighborhood grocery store and discovering no food. Even worse, imagine every grocery store within a day’s drive was without food. What would you do?

For migrating hummingbirds, the grocery store is the ocotillo and the food is the nectar held within its blossoms. As the tiny birds arrive each spring, they are finding more and more ocotillos are not open for business.

The problem isn’t that ocotillos are not blooming. They are. It’s that some are blooming too soon, before the arrival of migrating hummingbirds. A warmer environment is the explanation, a phenomenon associated with changing climatic conditions first brought to the public’s attention in the early 1980s.

Hummingbirds matter. They are metabolic wonders that have already taught us much about animal and human physiology. Their renowned nightly torpor makes them unusual in the avian world. More importantly, their incredibly rapid wing beats and status as the smallest birds on our planet require they maintain unusually high metabolic rates, higher than any other group of vertebrates. Changes in the gas content of the atmosphere and patterns of plant growth that humans might not initially detect are more likely to impact hummingbirds first. Their fate, in effect, acts as an early warning system for significant changes in the environment.

Read the entire article at Desertsun.com