Saturday, April 17, 2004

A Ton of Kinglets

I have a bad habit of referring to a large quantity of birds as a "ton" of birds. For example, within the last week large numbers of Ruby-crowned Kinglets have been moving through Prospect Park. These tiny, energetic birds have been eating their way through the park on their way north. When a friend asked me about the recent status of the migration in the park I reported to him that there were suddenly a ton of kinglets around.

I began to think about my use of the specific quantitative evaluation when it probably would have been more accurate if I had used more general terms like "abundant" or "fairly common". Could there have been literally a ton of those four inch long balls of feathers in Prospect Park's 526 acres? I decided to do the math.

The "Sibley Guide to Birds" lists the average weight of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet as 6.5 grams. There is a little over 453 grams to a pound:

453.59237 * 2000 = 907184.74
907184.74 / 6.5 = 139566.8830769231

Number of Ruby-crowned Kinglets it takes to equal a ton = 139,567.

It seems unlikely that there would ever be a ton of kinglets in Prospect Park. Maybe the next time someone asks I'll just say a busload. The results did start me thinking, though. I wonder how many pounds of bugs 139,000 kinglets could eat in a day...

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