The adult male of this species has an emerald
green back and crown, iridescent red throat,
white breast, gray flanks, and a deeply forked
tail. The adult female also has an emerald green
back and crown, but her throat and breast are
white and her tail is square. The female is also
larger than the male (3-3.5 inches in length) and
has a longer bill. Juveniles of either sex look
like the adult female.
The ruby-throated hummingbird breeds
throughout the eastern United States, east of the
100th meridian, and in southern Canada where
there is eastern and mixed deciduous forest, and
winters in southern Mexico, Central America (as
far south as Costa Rica), and in the West Indies.
Despite its very small size, it is capable of
remarkable non-stop migrations across the Gulf of
Mexico, a round trip of almost 1,000 miles.
During the breeding season, this species can
be found in deciduous and pine forests and forest
edges. During the winter, it lives in tropical
deciduous forests, citrus groves, forest edges,
hedgerows, along rivers and marshes, and in old
fields. Well adapted to human presence and
altered landscapes, it is also often found in
suburban gardens, wooded parks, and orchards.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds eat nectar from a
variety of different flowering plants, with a
particular attraction to plants that produce red
flowers. When nectar is scarce, they will also
consume tree sap. They also take a variety of
insects, including mosquitoes, gnats, fruit
flies, and small bees, as well as spiders. When
eating nectar, these birds hover above the plant,
using their long beaks to suck out the flower's'
nectar. Insects are taken on the wing, from
plants, and from spider webs. They consume twice
their body weight in food each day.
Males return to the breeding area in the
spring and establish territories. When the
females return, 7-10 days later, males court
females that enter their territory by performing
courtship displays. Males and females separate
after mating, and the female is solely
responsible for rearing the young.
The walnut-sized nest is usually built near
the tip of a downsloping branch, below a leaf
canopy and above a fairly open area. Constructed
primarily of plant material, lichens camouflage
the outside and the inside is lined with
dandelion, cattail, thistle down, and/or spider
silk. When the nest is complete, the female lays
1 to 3 (usually 2) pea-sized eggs, which are
incubated for 10 to 14 days. The chicks leave the
nest 18 to 22 days after hatching. Ruby-throated
hummingbirds can raise up to three broods each
It is thought that ruby-throated hummingbirds
can live as long as 12 years, but the average is
probably 3-5 years.
genus & species Archilochus colubris
Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Archilochus_colubris/
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