Michelle Thurber ’26


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Project Title

Broad-tailed Hummingbird Foraging Patterns and Climate Change

I worked with a team of researchers to collect data on broad-tailed hummingbird foraging patterns. My teammates and I placed motion-sensing cameras on wildflower species at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL) in Gothic, Colorado and recorded broad-tailed hummingbird visits. This project is part of a long-term study on how climate change affects wildflower blooms and hummingbird foraging patterns. As participants in RMBL’s Summer Education Program, we also investigated the effect of shorter-term temperature variation on hummingbird visitation rates using data collected by previous HMEI interns. We did not find evidence of a relationship between temperature and visitation rate, which was an intriguing result for a tiny, fast-moving bird that we thought would require even more frequent refueling of nectar during colder temperatures. This was my first experience doing research and writing a scientific paper, and it was also my first time climbing a mountain and seeing the Milky Way. My summer of complete immersion in nature, through science and my adventures, transformed me in many ways. As a result, I’ve become interested in helping others connect with birds, stars, mountains or whatever elements of nature speak to them.

* This internship is connected to the HMEI Climate and Energy Grand Challenges project, “Investigating the Effects of Climate Change on Hummingbird Sensory Landscapes.”

Internship Year


Project Category

Biodiversity and Conservation


Stoddard Lab, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University - Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Gothic, Colorado


Mary C. Stoddard, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Benedict Hogan, Associate Research Scholar, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Audrey Miller, Ph.D. candidate, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology