The Ultimate Guide to Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds are some of the most magnificent birds in the world. They're capable of flying to extremely precise points, with the ability to navigate themselves with exceptional control.
The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is an extraordinarily small bird, typically only weighing 2 to 6 grams. Due to their light weight, they are able to flap their wings more than 50 times per second.
For reference, that’s almost 25 times as fast as the American crow flaps its wings, which can only reach 2 times per second. With a combination of their light weight and their short wings, which allow for greater speed, hummingbirds have incredible control over their flight.
Ruby Throated Hummingbirds look completely different when comparing males and females. The male is extremely colorful when compared to the female.
Males typically have green or blue dominated backs and have a red colored “throat” region around their neck that’s responsible for giving them their names.
Females aren’t as colorful and typically have a gray and white colored chest. Their backs often have a light shade of green.
Ruby throated hummingbirds live in environments such as gardens, open fields, and meadows. They love anywhere that is grassy and peaceful.
Geographically, they are constantly migrating for the seasons and to breed. They often live in Mexico, Central America, or southern Florida during colder seasons like winter. Once summer arrives, they usually migrate to Canada and Eastern North America. This includes certain parts of Texas, northern Florida, and Oklahoma.
Inside of these locations, female hummingbirds will build nests for the young. These nests are often made of any materials lying around such as grasses, plant fibers, spider webs, or anything else that they can find. They also love to play around in hummingbird bird baths.
Nests are constructed in shrubs or large trees that are 10 to 20 feet above the ground, and are placed on horizontal branches that are covered by other camouflage such as lichens and dead leaves.
Ruby Throated Hummingbirds primarily eat insects and nectar. Hummingbird nectar is taken from flowers and the insects are typically tiny ones, scooped up by the hummer.
They love sugar water mixtures, commonly found in hummingbird bird feeders, and also enjoy flowers that have a tubular shape. Examples of tiny insects eaten by these beautiful birds include spiders, gnats, and flies.
All of these food sources are used by the hummingbird to stock up on food before crossing the Gulf of Mexico to migrate to a different spot. In stocking up on food, they nearly double their weight from around 3.25 grams, on average, to about 6 grams.
Typical hummingbird feeders will work swimmingly for Ruby Throated hummingbirds. The best hummingbird feeders can be filled up with sugar water, which should be made with one quarter cup of sugar for every cup of water.
Food coloring is not needed as the transparent liquid will work fine. Once the water grows cloudy or discolored, change it immediately. This is especially important as in hot weather, the sugar will ferment to make toxic alcohol.
The bright colors of the male hummingbird is used as a way to attract the attention of females in the courtship display. Males fly back and forth in front of the female in a wide U-shaped pendulum arc.
On each dive, they make a loud whirring sound. Throughout this, they continue to buzz back and forth in short passes in front of the perched female.
It’s believed that the females and males are polygynous and will mate with many mates throughout their lifetime. This isn’t known for sure, though, as this species has not been studied closely enough to form a true conclusion.
Breeding season begins around December and lasts all the way until May or June. This is an extremely long period of time, especially since females only lay 2 clutches of white eggs.
5 Fun Hummingbird Facts:
- These hummingbirds are unable to walk! They can only shuffle along perches.
- Ruby-throated Hummingbirds prefer to feed on red or orange flowers, although as previously mentioned it doesn’t matter which color the nectar is.
- These birds can see into the ultraviolet light spectrum, which even humans can’t see.
- The oldest recorded Ruby throated hummingbird was at least 9 years and 1 month old.
- Male Ruby throated hummingbirds don’t stick around long after mating and are usually off after only a few days to weeks.