Operation RubyThroat announces milestone in citizen science project

Volunteers to embark on 30th expedition in the name of conservation and citizen science


GAINESVILLE, FL, June 20, 2018 – In late October, a team of volunteer citizen scientists will embark on a landmark trip to Costa Rica to collect data on migrating Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris). This will be the 30th Central American expedition for Operation RubyThroat, a project of the non-profit Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History in York, South Carolina. The trip will be led by the center’s executive director, Dr. Bill Hilton Jr., and has been organized with the help of Gainesville-based Holbrook Travel, an educational travel provider.

“I’m honored and excited to celebrate this 30th trip in the name of research and conservation, and to be able to further expand our knowledge of these fascinating creatures,” Hilton says. “I’ve been fortunate over the years to be joined by volunteers and nature lovers who are equally dedicated to our mission.”

An internationally recognized hummingbird expert and educator-naturalist, Hilton is the only scientist conducting long-term systematic studies of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in Central America. Together with teams of citizen scientists, to date he has banded more than 1,500 specimens in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Belize, and El Salvador.

Using mist netting and live-trapping operations, the October team will observe, capture and band the hummingbirds in the field. The data they collect will provide a more complete understanding of behavior, distribution, migration route and patterns, population dynamics, molt, and longevity. The data may also help direct future conservation efforts, as habitat destruction along the birds’ migration path could threaten the species.

Operations will be centered at Ujarrás, a riverside agricultural community whose cash crop is chayote—a squash that flowers prolifically and whose nectar is sought by hummingbirds and other avifauna.

Hilton established the Hilton Pond Center in 1982 and first began his international research on Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in 2004, working in collaboration with Costa Rican naturalist Ernesto M. Carman. While this common hummingbird species is well-documented in its breeding range in the U.S. and Canada, very little was previously known about their behavioral ecology on the other end of their migratory path—even though they spend nearly half the year in Mexico and Central America.

The upcoming travel program is open to anyone who would like to participate; experience and training are not necessary, and space is still available. In addition to field work, there will be time for field trips to view other fauna and flora in natural areas of Costa Rica, including Tapantí National Park, Irazú Volcano, and Rancho Naturalista.

More information about the upcoming trip is available at: holbrook.travel/rubythroat-cr30

Learn more about the Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History and Operation RubyThroat at hiltonpond.org and rubythroat.org.


Holbrook Travel was founded on the mission to facilitate a true connection between our travelers and our destinations. Since 1974, we’ve taken thousands of travelers on expeditions across Latin America, Africa, and destinations beyond. We combine reliable travel support with deep knowledge to create enriching travel experiences that last a lifetime. The Holbrook Story began when founder Giovanna Holbrook led two University of Florida science professors and a group of naturalists to the Galápagos Islands. The company embarked on a mission to design travel programs that were both educational and affordable. More than 40 years later, Holbrook Travel continues to serve the needs of teachers, students, academic institutions, conservation organizations, and nature lovers.


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Holbrook Travel


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