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Observations: a statement about something you have noticed : a comment or remark
Qualitative: having to do with characteristics of an object such as color.
Quantitative: having to do with amounts and often using exact measurement.
Variable: factor that may affect a particular experimental group. In an experiment a variable is something that can be changed such as temperature or length of time.
In backyards all over the country we often get to see beautiful birds and hear their calls. One bird is a standout for its beauty, grace and elegance—the hummingbird. As you learned in the Hummingbirds story, they are often attracted to the red hummingbird feeders that we hang outside. But why? Would they be just as attracted to a white feeder? In this activity, you will set up feeders of different colors and measure how much nectar hummingbirds drink from the different feeders.
Before you begin: Do an internet search of your state or town and "hummingbirds" to make sure at least one species of hummingbirds lives in your area (they are only found in the Americas).
Make sure to have one feeder outside for a week or two before you try the experiment so local hummingbirds will know they can get food in your school yard. The time before they notice it may vary.
Read the Hummingbirds story to make sure you are familiar with what and how hummingbirds eat, as well as the importance of color to this type of bird.
Watch the video on the hummingbird vision and color page and make 5-7 observations. Look at what the hummingbirds are doing, and write down interesting things that you noticed. If students have a feeder in their yard with hummingbirds that come to eat, they can observe that as well.
A good place to record your observations would be a science notebook. This will help you keep your thoughts and ideas in one spot.
Once you have at least 5-7 observations, come up with some related questions. See the table below for two examples.
|Red feeder||Are hummingbirds attracted to red feeders?|
|Lots of hummingbird species feeding||What hummingbirds are in my area?|
Analyze your data: What trends have you noticed? Are the hummingbirds drinking nectar from one feeder more than the other? What data do we have to support this?
Communicate your results. Pick a format of your liking and communicate your results. Be sure to consider the role, the reader and the effective communication of the results. (Choose from: newspaper article, formal written scientific paper, or an online media source-blogs; see Teaching Tips for more information.)
|View with Computer||View with Smart Phone||View with Goggles|
As you explore this hummingbird feeder, take notes on the types of hummingbirds, you find. Here are a few questions to get you started. Also try making up your own set of questions.
Learn more about these tiny birds and other birds that live in the southwest United States using our Bird Finder tool.
Amanda Sibley is a graduate of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. She teaches 8th grade at Kino Jr. High in Mesa Arizona.
Virtual Hummingbird Feeder by CJ Kazilek. 360 VR image taken in Keystone Colorado.
Amanda Sibley. (2014, May 28). Hummingbird Lunch. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved February 22, 2018 from https://askabiologist.asu.edu/experiments/hummingbird-feeder
Amanda Sibley. "Hummingbird Lunch". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 28 May, 2014. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/experiments/hummingbird-feeder
Amanda Sibley. "Hummingbird Lunch". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 28 May 2014. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 22 Feb 2018. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/experiments/hummingbird-feeder