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Best of Cultivating Place: Great garden friends: The Hummingbird Monitoring Network, Dr. Susan Wethington

Images by Dave “Fritz” Katz courtesy of the Hummingbird Monitoring Network.
Images by Dave “Fritz” Katz courtesy of the Hummingbird Monitoring Network.

Hummingbirds are beloved and charismatic creatures of the Americas. More than 350 species of hummingbirds have coevolved with the flora of the Americas for millions of years.

For this fourth week in our series of five episodes on our gardens as important habitats and we gardeners as important stewards of land and biodiversity, we check in on the state of things for the Hummingbird.

Cultivating Place is joined in this by Dr. Susan Wethington, research scientist, Program Developer, and Executive Director of the Hummingbird Monitoring Network based in Arizona.

"Hummingbirds are unique in that every culture that lives with hummingbirds has a positive interaction with hummingbirds and it seems to me that if we can maintain hummingbird diversity in this world - because we all love them - then we have a chance to maintain biodiversity in other species that are so critical in our functioning natural world. That if we can let one animal into our hearts - the others can follow."
— Dr. Susan Wethington, Executive Director, The Hummingbird Network

Images by Dave “Fritz” Katz courtesy of the Hummingbird Monitoring Network.
Images by Dave “Fritz” Katz courtesy of the Hummingbird Monitoring Network.

The hummingbirds are among our smallest of birds, but our largest – and of course avian – pollinators. These little birds, many of which migrate vast distances, need to drink more than their body weight in nectar every day, and are voracious and effective insectivore. Having co-evolved with the native flora of the Americans – including with the vast diversity of salvias, penstemons, lobelia, agastache, manzanitas, honeysuckles and more – they love nothing more than beautiful flowering native or other nectar/pollen rich plants in our gardens to help them on their way. Listen in!

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Jennifer Jewell is the creator and host of the national award-winning, weekly public radio program and podcast, Cultivating Place: Conversations on Natural History & the Human Impulse to Garden, Jennifer Jewell is a gardener, garden writer, and gardening educator and advocate. Particularly interested in the intersections between gardens, the native plant environments around them, and human culture, she is the daughter of garden and floral designing mother and a wildlife biologist father.
Matt Fidler is a producer and sound designer with over 15 years’ experience producing nationally distributed public radio programs. He has worked for shows such as Freakonomics Radio, Selected Shorts, Studio 360, The New Yorker Radio Hour and The Takeaway. In 2017, Matt launched the language podcast Very Bad Words, hitting the #28 spot in the iTunes podcast charts.