Ruby Throated Hummingbird Facts | Anatomy, Diet, Habitat, Behavior

The ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) is a tiny bird that breeds all along the Central and North America. It is a hummingbird species and like a typical hummingbird the ruby throated bird is thought to display astonishing feats of flight. It is able to fly not only backwards but can also hover upside and down. The ruby throated is a migratory hummingbird.

Ruby throated Hummingbird Facts

Anatomy

  • The adult ruby throated humming bird is 7 to 9 cm (2.8 to 3.5 in) long with the wingspan measuring up to 8 to 11 cm (3.1 to 4.3 in).
  • Males average 3.4 g (0.12 oz) in weight while females weigh up to 3.8 g (0.13 oz).
  • They show brilliant-colored plumage ranging from shiny greyish white to metallic green.
  • The length of the hummingbird’s bill is about 2 cm (0.79 in). It is long, straight and slender.
  • Ruby throated hummingbirds scratch their head with their feet.
  • They have short feet and legs which are used for perching only.
  • Females are slightly larger than males. However males display brilliant colors while female lack one.
  • They beat their wings at a lightning speed because of their blade-like wings.
  • During flight they can rotate 180o and it also allows the bird to fly backwards.

See also: Hummingbird Facts For Kids

ruby throated hummingbird facts
Ruby throated Hummingbird feeding on nectar ©wildlifeofct.com

Geographic Range

  • The ruby throated hummingbird occupies much of the southern Canada, and inhabits the Rocky Mountains in the United States.
  • In winter they migrate toward the Central America and Mexico as well as Panama.
  • They are likely to breed in the eastern North America. Their range extends to West Indies, southern Florida, Caribbean, Gulf Coast, and Gulf of Mexico.

Habitat

  • They are thought to make homes in a variety of habitats such as pine forests, orchards, deciduous forests, gardens, and forest edges.
  • Ruby throated hummingbirds have got the largest breeding range in the United States. In Ontario, Canada hummingbirds occur in the broadleaved and mixed deciduous forest.

Behavior

  • Ruby throated hummingbirds fly alone except in the breeding season.
  • Hummingbirds of one group may not tolerate hummingbirds of the other that is to say they are highly aggressive toward each other.
  • These tiny birds actively defend their territories driving off any bird that attempts to enter it.
  • In the spring season, hummingbirds leave Mexico for Louisiana and Florida.
  • Hummingbirds are one of the fastest birds in flight. They beat their wings so fast (80 beats/second) that they can easily lose their caloric energy. Birds such as this rarely fly too far from their breeding sites. Ruby throated hummingbirds do take a non-stop flight of about 800 km (500 mi) over water. In order to store calorie they must spend much of their daytime on feeding.
  • Some birds may migrate as much as 3,360 miles. During their entire journey they make 4,000,000 beats in total.
  • They have got one of the fastest metabolism rates and heart rates are 1260 beats per minute. Hummingbirds take 250 breaths per minute.
  • Hummingbirds utter sounds like tik-tik tik-tik tik-tik.
  • Ruby throated hummingbirds go inactive at night. They conserve energy by entering into torpor.

Feeding Ecology & Diet

  • Ruby throated hummingbirds rely on nectar and flowering trees. Along with flowers the bird supplements its diet with some arthropods and small insects especially those that are rich in protein and vitamins.
  • Prominent among flowers are pink tubular and red tubular. Flowers such as this offer much nectar to feed an adult bird. Sometimes tree sap also makes up the essential part of hummingbird’s diet.
  • Parents feed insects to the young because (only) nectar is not good enough to give them the required protein.
  • Hummingbirds are quite busy in that they visit around 2,000 flowers a day.

See Also: The Smallest Bird in the World

ruby throated hummingbird facts
Ruby Throated Hummingbird ©flickr/kencrebbin

Reproductive Biology

  • The breeding season occurs mostly from May to June but in the north it begins in July.
  • The female lays up to 2 eggs. Male departs soon after mating and take no part in rearing the young.
  • Males claim the territory before the females arrive. During courtship, both male and female perform a diving display of going up and down.
  • Hummingbirds build nests 3.1 to 12.2 m (10 to 40 ft) above the ground. They are most likely to make nests in poplar trees including oak, birch, hackberry, hornbeam, and pines.
  • They attain maturity in one year.
  • Female alone does all the hard work such as making nest, rearing the young and incubating eggs.
  • Each egg measures 12.9 mm × 8.5 mm (0.51 in × 0.33 in). The nest measures 1.6 inches across.
  • The incubation lasts about 12 – 14 days. She regurgitates the chicks 1 – 3 times every hour.
  • Young birds leave the nest in about 18 – 22 days.
  • The average lifespan of ruby throated hummingbirds is 5 years in the wild. The oldest known specimen lived up to 9 years. Females however are thought to survive up to 7 years.
  • Predators of ruby throated hummingbirds are American kestrels, sharp-shinned hawks, loggerhead shrikes, merlins, great roadrunners, and Mississippi kites. Those who eat only hummingbird’s eggs are lizards, chipmunks, squirrels, corvids, bats, blue jays, and snakes.
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