Ruby-throated HummingbirdArchilochus colubris

adult male
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
adult female with nestling
Fred Truslow/VIREO
adult male
Paula Cannon/VIREO
adult female
Claude Nadeau/VIREO
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Family

Description

3 1/2" (9 cm). Tiny. Needle-like bill. Metallic green above, white below; male has brilliant, iridescent red throat. Immature male lacks red throat. Female green above, with white throat and breast, buff sides, and white-tipped outer tail feathers.

Voice

Mouse-like, twittering squeaks.

Listen

chase calls
chipping & wing noise
swing dance song
interaction with wing shuffles

Habitat

Suburban gardens, parks, and woodlands.

Range

The only hummingbird that breeds east of Mississippi River. Breeds from southern Canada to Gulf Coast. Winters mainly in tropics, rarely on Gulf Coast.

Discussion

These diminutive birds are particularly attracted to tubular red flowers such as salvia and trumpet creeper, as well as bee balm, petunia, jewelweed, and thistle. Hummers are also attracted to artificial feeders-red glass tubes filled with sweet liquid. With their remarkable powers of flight, they are the only birds that can fly backward as well as hover in one spot like insects. They are constantly in motion, perching on twigs or wires only briefly to rest and to survey their surroundings, or when they are at the nest. During courtship, the female sits quietly on a perch while the male displays in a pendulum dance, swinging in a wide arc and buzzing loudly with each dip.

Nesting

2 white eggs in a woven nest of plant down held together with spider silk and covered with lichens. Nest is saddled to the branch of a tree, usually in a forest clearing.

Similar Species

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

4-4 1/2" (10-11 cm). Male metallic green, with rose-red gorget; green crown; broad tail with little rufous.

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Rufous Hummingbird

3 1/2-4" (9-10 cm). Male has bright rufous upperparts and flanks and iridescent orange-red throat. Female green above, with rufous tinge on rump and flanks, and much rufous in tail.

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Allen's Hummingbird

3-3 1/2" (8-9 cm). A very small hummingbird. Male has iridescent green crown and back; rufous rump and tail.

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Calliope Hummingbird

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Black-chinned Hummingbird

3 1/4-3 3/4" (8-10 cm). A small hummingbird. Male green above with iridescent black chin underlined by violet-purple throat band.

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Lucifer Hummingbird

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Anna's Hummingbird

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Costa's Hummingbird

3-3 1/2" (8-9 cm). A tiny hummingbird. Male's violet-purple crown and gorget, which is flanked with very long, conspicuous side feathers, distinguish it from Black-chinned Hummingbird.

Vireo

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