Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Archilochus colubris
Sound (208 KB)
3.75 inches (10 cm)
• Male: iridescent red throat and black chin
• Green upperparts, whitish underparts
• Greenish flanks
• Female: throat and underparts whitish, green above
• Small hummingbird
• Long, straight, thin bill
• Bright green back and crown
• Entirely dark tail
• White underparts with greenish flanks
• Iridescent scarlet gorget
• Black face and chin
• Green back and crown
• White chin and throat with variable amounts of thin dark streaking
• White underparts
• Dark tail with white tips on outer tail feathers
• No other hummingbirds occur regularly over much of its range, but there is some overlap in the southeast and Texas. The Broad-billed Hummingbird is similar to the male Ruby-throated, but has a rosy-red throat rather than a scarlet or ruby throat patch. Male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can also be identified by their black face and chin, and their distinctive call notes, and the lack of a wing whistle produced by their wings in flight. Females are similar to a number of other female hummingbirds, and are best told from the Calliope Hummingbird and species in the genus Selasphorus by their lack of rufous on the flanks and in the tail. Anna's Hummingbirds are larger and have grayer chests, while Costa's Hummingbirds differ only in subtleties of facial pattern and tail pattern. Black-chinned Hummingbird females are essentially identical, and are not safely separable from female Ruby-throateds except in the hand. Best told from all species except Black-chinned Hummingbird by call.
Common in the east in gardens with flowers, woodland edges, orchards, suburban areas with hummingbird feeders, parks. Only hummingbird that regularly nests east of the Mississippi River. Attracted to the color red. (Do NOT color the sugar water fed to hummingbirds, just have part of hummingbird feeder colored red.)
NESTING & FEEDING:
BREEDING: Deciduous or mixed woodland, open areas with scattered trees, gardens, parks. 2, occasionally 3 broods. Mating system is believed to be promiscuous.
DISPLAYS: Male swings pendulum-like before female, rising 8 to 10 feet above and 5 to 6 feet to each side of her. Preceding copulation, male and female face each other, alternately ascend about 10 feet and descend, eventually dropping to ground and copulating.
NEST: On small, downward-inclined deciduous, occasionally coniferous limb, often near or over stream; 10-20 feet above the ground, of bud scales, lichen on exterior, bound with spider's silk, lined with plant down. Old nests occasionally occupied several seasons, refurbished annually. Female builds nest.
EGGS: Two white, unmarked. 0.5" (13 mm).
CHICK DEVELOPMENT: Female incubates. Incubation takes 11-14? days. Development is altricial (immobile, downless, eyes closed, fed). Young leave the nest after 14-28 days. Female tends young.
DIET: Includes spiders; also takes tree sap from woodpecker drilling.
CONSERVATION: Winters s through n c Mexico to c Costa Rica. Blue List 1978-86; widely reported to be declining.
NOTES: Sexes apparently migrate separately; males first to arrive and to depart. Northern distribution may depend on availability of tree sap provided by sapsuckers' drilling. During hovering, wings beat 55 times/second, 61/second when moving backward, and at least 75/second when moving forward.
Archilochus colubris RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD. Woodland, second growth, towns, meadows. From c Alberta (locally), c Saskatchewan and s Manitoba e across s Canada to New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, and s to sc,se Alberta, s Saskatchewan, ne Montana, s Manitoba, the e Dakotas, e Nebraska, e Kansas, wc Oklahoma to ec Texas s to s Texas and e along the Gulf coast to s Florida.