Biology 2018
Operation Rubythroat

Migration Ecology of Hummingbirds in Belize

Spring 2015

Dr. Jerry Skinner, Capwell Hall 211.  Phone (570) 945-8404.  E-mail:

Dr. Bill Hilton, Executive Director, Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History and Principal Investigator for Project Rubythroat.

Required Texts:  

Russel, S. M. and R. O. Russell.  2001.  The North American Banders Manual for Banding Hummingbirds.  The North American Banding Council, Point Reyes Station, CA.  This will be provided to you.

H.  Lee Jones.  2004.  Birds of Belize.  U. of Texas Press.  317 pp. ISBN-10: 0292701640.  $23.07 on  Amazon.




Optional Text: 

Beletsky, L.,  D. Dennis, and D. Beadle  2010.  Belize & Northern Guatemala (Travelers' Wildlife Guides).  Interlink Books.  ISBN-1566565685. $19.77 on Amazon.




Keystone College Cancellation Policy

Class Meetings:  Wednesday, 12-1250 pm; first half of semester only.

Trip dates:  March 14-21, 2015

AccomodationsBirds Eye View Lodge

Course Goal:  To introduce you to the wildlife biology technique of bird banding and the basics of bird migration and tropical ecology.

Objectives:   Students will

  1. be exposed to tropical biology and ecology.
  2. experience the culture, both current and past, of a Central American county.
  3. study migratory behavior of hummingbirds and bird banding techniques.
  4. explore their own areas of interest during free time.
  5. master field observation techniques and data-recording skills.

Lecture topics:

  1. general introduction to Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (RTHU), Archilochus colubris
  2. field techniques in capturing, banding, and observing RTHU
  3. confirming fall migration routes (southbound) for RTHU
  4. annual survival and recruitment in RTHU
  5. comparison of nectar-feeding and pollination behavior of RTHU within breeding and wintering ranges
  6. results of 28 RTHU field seasons in South Carolina
  7. results of 14 RTHU banding expeditions to the Neotropics.
  8. banding other Neotropical migrant bird species
  9. hummingbird miscellany
  10. Ernesto Carman, Jr. of Costa Rica will present on his work with Cerulean Warblers
  11. local Belizeans will provide an introduction to the culture of their county
  12. each participant will give an informal 10 minute talk about his/her background and future plans; 2 or 3 of these per night
  13. during afternoon unstructured time students will explore the natural areas around Crooked Tree and to record species seen
  14. afternoon field trip to Altun Hun will provide deep background on the importance of Mayan culture in Belizean history
  15. afternoon field trip to Belize Zoo will provide intimate exposure to avian and non-avian fauna of Belize

Student In Class Presentations-Possible topics:

Facts:  History, Geography, Climate Insects
Mayan Culture and History Mammals
Laws We Need to Know Birds (besides...)
Plants Ruby-throated and other hummers
Herps Do you have another idea of something we need to know about?

Tentative Itinerary

Flight Information

Attendance at pre-trip meetings 50
Presentation in class 50
Trip (Instructor's subjective evaluation of participation) 100
Total 165 pts

Faculty-Led Program Withdrawal Policy

If a student chooses to withdraw from a Keystone College faculty-led program, he or she must inform the faculty leader and Study Abroad Coordinator in writing immediately.

In such an event, the following policies apply:

If an accepted student chooses to withdraw prior to a program's commencement:
He or she will be responsible for paying any unrecoverable program costs that the College or the program has incurred on his or her behalf. Such costs may include, but are not limited to: pre-paid meals, pre-paid room or housing reservation deposits, airline deposits or airline tickets, bus rental fees, and payments for guides. Thus, even if the student has not yet paid the full program balance and does not attend the program, he or she may be responsible for paying these unrecoverable program costs. Therefore, it is in the student's best interest to notify the faculty leader and Study Abroad Coordinator immediately upon making a decision to withdraw in order to minimize unrecoverable expenses made on the student's behalf.

If a student chooses to withdraw after a program's commencement for any reason, including academic or conduct: No refunds will be given. In addition, any student who withdraws before completion of the program may not be eligible to receive academic credit from the program.

If a student is required to return to the U.S. after a program's commencement due to serious illness, death, or death within the immediate family: The College will make every effort to refund recoverable costs to the student.

If a student chooses not to participate in a program activity (such as a field trip, excursion, cultural event, included meals, etc.): No portion of the program cost will be refunded.

If a student is dismissed from a program due to behavioral, academic, legal, or other related issues: No refunds will be given. Students will also be responsible for additional costs associated with sending them home (flight, transportation, etc.).

Note: Students receiving financial aid should consult with the Financial Aid Office for information about how withdrawing from a program would affect their federal, state, or institutional aid.

Faculty-Led Program Cancellation Policy

Because student safety is of critical importance, Keystone College reserves the right to cancel any College sponsored program in a location that is considered unsafe by the College or for which the U.S. Department of State has issued a Travel Warning. The Study Abroad Coordinator regularly reviews information provided by the U.S. Department of State and monitors other sources, such as announcements from the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), for information about the countries where Keystone students are or will be studying.

In such an event, the following policies apply:

If Keystone cancels a program for safety reasons prior to departure or after commencement of the program: The College will make every effort to refund recoverable program costs to the participants. Unrecoverable program expenses (e.g., airline deposits, excursion expenses, housing fees or reservation deposits) cannot be refunded.

If Keystone cancels a program after it has commenced due to safety concerns, an emergency, or a natural disaster: The College will make every effort to help students complete the academic work from the program and, depending on the circumstances, possibly earn the intended academic credit from the program. Whether or not this is possible depends largely on the particular program, the circumstances of the academic work of the program, and the length of time remaining in the program after the official cancellation date.

If Keystone cancels a program for reasons other than safety, including under-enrollment: The College will make every effort to refund recoverable program costs to the participants.

Note:  The Financial Aid Office will review program cancellations on a case-by-case basis for students who are receiving financial aid.

Because full refunds are often not possible, students may wish to consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance that can be obtained through many travel agents or insurance companies. Policies vary on when trip cancellation insurance must be purchased, so students should check with travel insurance providers for more details.