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Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Archilochus colubris

Hummingbirds hover in the air while they sip nectar from red, tubular flowers such as cardinal flower. (Jason Means/Flickr)
Hummingbirds hover in the air while they sip nectar from red, tubular flowers such as cardinal flower. (Jason Means/Flickr)

The ruby-throated hummingbird is a tiny, iridescent green bird that visits forests, swamps and gardens throughout the Chesapeake Bay region from spring through autumn.

Appearance:

Ruby-throated hummingbirds grow to about 3 inches in length. They have an iridescent green head and back, a white belly and a needle-like bill. Males have a metallic, ruby red throat and a forked tail; females have a grayish throat and their tail is squared with a white tip.

Habitat:

Forests, orchards, freshwater swamps and backyard gardens. Usually live alone, generally only coming together with another hummingbird to mate.

Range:

Visits the Chesapeake Bay watershed from late spring through early autumn. Flies nearly 1,000 miles round-trip each year as it migrates to and from its breeding grounds.

Feeding:

To feed, the hummingbird uses its needle-like bill to sip nectar from red, tubular flowers such as crossvine and cardinal flower. It hovers in the air while feeding.

Predators:

Hawks, blue jays and domestic cats are a few hummingbird predators.

Flight:

Hummingbirds are unique because they can fly backwards and upside down. Their wings beat up to 70 times per second.

Voice:

The hummingbird gets its name from the humming sound made by its rapid wing beats. Males will emit a single warning note if another male enters their breeding territory.

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

Males establish a mating territory, performing a courtship display for any female that enters. During his courtship display, a male’s wings can beat more than twice as fast as normal. After mating, the male and female separate. The female builds a tiny, 2-inch nest in a tree above an open area. She lays an average of two eggs, which she incubates for 10-14 days. The chicks leave the best 18-22 days after hatching. Hummingbirds can live up to nine years in the wild.

Other Facts:

  • The only hummingbird found in the mid-Atlantic region
  • The smallest bird in the Chesapeake Bay region

Sources and Additional Information:




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