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You are here: Home Corvid Crier Stories 2014-06 Young RUHU Enthusiast Offers Facts and Thanks

Young RUHU Enthusiast Offers Facts and Thanks

Julia Stafford, a graduating senior at the International School in Bellevue, recently impressed an Eastside Audubon audience with the presentation of her capstone project on the Rufous Hummingbird.

Julia Stafford, Presenting, by Mick ThompsonDid you know that the Rufous Hummingbird makes one of the longest migratory journeys of any bird relative to its body size?

Well, Julia Stafford, a senior at Bellevue International School, knows that ­— and lots more about the RUHU.

In the final presentation for her senior project at the International School in Bellevue, she recently shared this and many other fascinating facts about the Rufous Hummingbird and its migration and conservation.

Photo: Julia Stafford, by Mick Thompson

EAS Leads the Way

Youth Education Committee member Mary Britton-Simmons mentored Julia through her yearlong project to study the at-risk Rufous, one of only two hummingbird species we see in our area.

Having worked on her project for more than 90 hours during the school year, Julia also reported:

  • The Rufous Hummingbird weighs less than a penny and is 3 to 4 inches long.
  • It migrates 4,000 miles along the Rockies between Mexico and its breeding areas in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
  • Its wings flap 200 times a second and it can zip at a rate of 50 miles per hour.
  • It can fly in any direction — including backward.
  • Even when resting, its heart rate is 600 beats per minute or faster.
  • It may visit more than 1,000 flowers between dawn and dusk.
  • It eats up to half its body weight and drink up to 8 times its body weight.

Julia also learned that bird banding is crucial to conservation and reported that RUHU survival depends on preservation of high mountain meadows.

Julia Thanks Her EAS Supporters

After her presentation, Julia wrote the following words of thanks to the Eastside Audubon members and experts who helped her with her project.

Thank you to every stakeholder who has been with me through the duration of my senior project. It meant so much to me to have people who were interested in my project and wanted to help guide me through it as my year progressed.

I couldn't have done my project if it weren't for my interviewees: Chris Caviezel, Hugh Jennings, and Andrew McCormick. They were invaluable in my gaining knowledge of the Rufous Hummingbird and my project in general. Having the opportunity to speak to such amazing bird experts about a topic I feel really passionate about was so interesting and beneficial.

I want to thank all of the wonderful birders I met throughout volunteering at different Eastside Audubon events, such as the work parties at the Audubon BirdLoop at Marymoor Park, Girl Scouts camp, and various science fairs.

And of course the largest thanks go to my mentor Mary Britton-Simmons, who was right there beside me through my entire project and was the reason I was able to complete it successfully. Mary was always two steps ahead of me, guiding me through my project, offering advice, and, most of all, becoming a close friend.

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The mission of Eastside Audubon is to protect, preserve and enhance natural ecosystems and our communities for the benefit of birds, other wildlife and people.