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Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Ruby Throated Hummingbird
Archilochus colubris      
(Order: Apodiformes; Family Trochilidae)


Female Ruby Throated Hummingbird
Female.  http://RubyThroated Hummingbird

Diagnosis:  Adult males: are emerald green on their back.  They have an iridescent ruby red gorget (throat), gray flanks, forked tail with no white, and is smaller than the female. Adult females: are emerald green on its back, white rounded throat, and has a tail with white tips.  She is larger than the male and has a longer bill.  The average length of an adult is 8.9 cm and weight is 3.1 grams.  Juveniles:  Male and female look alike until several months. The male will develop some red spots on his gorget.  Rubys have very short legs.  They don’t really walk or hop, they shuffle! 

Natural History:  Rubys prefer specific feeder location and like red and orange flowers.  They can see in color and in ultraviolet.  They actively defend their feeding territories from other hummingbirds as well as other birds.  They tolerate juveniles for a short time at the feeder and then they are treated as an adult.   The Ruby Throated Hummingbird must eat twice its body weight to keep up with their high metabolism due to wing beat and energetic movement.   They are most known for their flight speed which can be anywhere from 48.2 km to 101.3 km when diving.  Their wings beat about 53 times per second.  Ruby Throats molt once a year (this can take several months).  They love to bathe and will use any type of water whether it’s wet moss or a waterfall.  Ruby Throats make excited, high-pitched squeaks and twitter sounds.  They migrate up to 500 miles to Mexico, Central America, or the Caribbean Islands.  Males have been known to leave before the females in both directions.  They have also been known to put on an extra 50% of their body weight in the last two weeks before migrating.  Courtship is brief. The female raises the young alone in a small, walnut-sized nest made of bud scales attached to tree limbs with spider silk.  Lichens camouflage the outside, and the inside is lined with dandelion, cattails, or thistle down.  The nest can be reused next year, and it stretches as the young hatch.  Usually there are 2 white, pea-sized eggs and are laid 2-3 days apart.  The female will incubate the eggs for about 60-80% of the day for 12-16 days.  They remain in the nest for 14-31 days depending on the availability of food.  The fledglings are usually larger than their mom and she loses weight raising them.  Ruby Throat's average life span is 3-5 years.

Adult Distribution:  Ruby Throated Hummingbirds are throughout the eastern to the mid-western North America from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.  They spend the winters in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.  Some Ruby Throated Hummingbirds remain around the Gulf States and the outer banks of North Carolina.

Average Arrival Dates and Habitat of Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

Average Arrival Dates and Habitat of Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds.


Habitat:  Ruby Throats like open forests, grasslands, gardens, scrub vegetation and often near water.  The nest the female builds is anywhere from 1 m – 9 m above the ground, usually in a fork of a tree.                                                                              

Diet:  Adults love to feed on the nectar and sap of flowers and occasionally eat insects and spiders.  They have been known to frequent feeders with sugar water around people’s homes.  Juveniles are fed insects for protein by the mother hummingbird.

Conservation Status: Stable

Video: Ruby Throated Hummingbird



All About Birds:

National Geographic:



Alsop III, Fred J. 2003.  Backyard Birds of North America. Crane Hill Publishers, Birmingham, Al.

Heidcamp, Arnette. 1990. A Hummingbird in My House, “A Story of Squeak”. Crown Publishers, New York, NY.

Wilson, James D. 2001. Common Birds of North America, Midwest Edition. Willow Creek Press, Minocqua, WI.


Submitted by:  Tammey Shimon, July 2013.


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