It is no exaggeration to say that without Nancy Newfield, Louisiana would perhaps still be unaware of the dimensions of its wintering hummingbird population, not to mention considerable knowledge about hummingbirds in general.
Nancy’s 34 years of banding conclusively demonstrated that many of the “vagrant” hummingbirds spotted here in winter returned in subsequent winters, proving they could survive in our climate. Moreover, she documented that many of these returns are to the exact same yard, showing a site fidelity for wintering grounds previously not documented.
Her work with breeding populations of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds showed that by mid-August, long before migration appears to have begun in earnest, our local breeding population has already moved out and is being steadily replaced by waves of migrants from farther north or east. Site fidelity here, too, has been repeatedly demonstrated with some females returning to the same nesting area four or more years running.
Beyond her own research projects she has assisted in research by graduate students and scientists at Louisiana State University and in other research projects in Texas and Arizona. Although now mostly retired from lecturing she formerly gave scores of lecture programs annually on hummingbirds to groups ranging from garden clubs to scientific organizations.
She is the author of five published books on hummingbirds, including “Hummingbird Gardens” with Barbara Nielsen, which remained in print for a decade as the standard book on landscaping to attract hummingbirds. The latest, specifically on the hummingbirds of Louisiana, was published by the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program and may be ordered from the website or downloaded directly here.
In addition, she has written more than 20 articles for a variety of ornithological journals as well as birding and conservation magazines. In January of 2010 her research was featured in an episode of PBS’s Nature entitled “Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air.”
In and among all those activities, she has also led more than a dozen tours of birding groups in Central and South America, ranging from Costa Rica to Ecuador.