The Dazzling Rufous Hummingbird, Threatened By Climate Change

16:36 minutes

a hummingbird in flight with bright orange plumage around its neck and brown and white wings and body
A Rufous hummingbird. Credit: Wendy Miller/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Rufous hummingbird has a reputation as one of the continent’s most tenacious birds of its size. Weighing less than a nickel and topping out at three inches long, it’s migratory journey is one of the world’s longest. Each spring, just as flowers start to bloom, it will travel nearly 4,000 miles—from Mexico to Alaska.  

Yet climate change is taking its toll on even these tenacious birds. The population of rufous hummingbirds, one of the most common hummingbird species in the U.S., is decreasing dramatically. And the Rufous may soon join the list of 37 hummingbird species currently threatened with extinction, according to an analysis by BirdLife International.

Jon Dunn, natural history writer and photographer set out to document as many of these remarkable bejeweled birds as he could before they are gone. He joins Ira to talk about their shared fascination with hummingbirds and his new book, The Glitter In the Green: In Search of Hummingbirds

Read an excerpt of the book.

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Segment Guests

Jon Dunn

Jon Dunn is a nature history writer and photographer based in Shetland Isles, United Kingdom. He’s author of The Glitter in the Green: In Search of Hummingbirds (Basic Books, 2021).

Segment Transcript

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Ira Flatow is the host and executive producer of Science FridayHis green thumb has revived many an office plant at death’s door.

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