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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.


  • Iridescent green head and back
  • White belly
  • Males have a metallic, ruby red throat and a forked tail
  • Females have a grayish throat. Their tail is squared with a white tip.
  • Needle-like bill
  • Grows about 3 inches long


  • Found in forests, orchards, freshwater swamps and backyard gardens
  • Usually lives alone, generally only coming together with another hummingbird to mate


  • 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


  • Uses its needle-like bill to sip nectar from red, tubular flowers such as crossvine and cardinal flower.
  • Hovers in the air while feeding


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


  • Hummingbirds are unique because they can fly backwards and upside down
  • Beats its wings up to 70 times per second


  • Rapid wing beats make a humming sound
  • 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
  • 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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