The lively little Ruby throated Hummingbird inhabits the eastern portion of the United States. In fact they are the only type of hummingbirds seen in the east. They range from the gulf coast all the way up into south Canada.
They bless us with their gift of beauty and energy during the summer months. Then each fall they fly across the Caribbean to Mexico or Central America for the winter. A few spend their winters in south Florida.
These birds are not very big at all. In fact they are tiny, measuring from 3 1/2" to 3 3/4". They only weigh a half an ounce.
They get around very fast for such little birds. Their wings beat up to 50 times a second and that is what makes their humming sound.
These tiny birds are the acrobats of the bird world. They are able to fly forward, backward, hover and even fly upside down for a short time.
All their high activity uses a lot of food. They eat every 10 to 15 minutes and consume 2 to 3 times their weight in food every day.
They burn it all up with their high energy metabolism. It's a good thing we don't eat that much.
The Ruby-throat gets its name from the male's ruby-red
gorget, his throat. In the sunlight his throat glistens a gorgeous red. Without direct sunlight, his throat will look almost black.
The top of his head, sides and back
also have iridescent feathers that glisten green in the sunlight. Without
direct sunlight his colors look dark.
His primary wing feathers and tail are dark. There is a notch in the center of his tail. The beak and legs are dark.
Just below his ruby throat, the top part of his chest is white before a light-colored belly. In front of the tail, there are small white feathers on his bottom.
They enjoy visiting yards, open wooded areas and places that have the flowers they prefer.
They are particularly attracted to red or orange flowers. But best of all they like trumpet shaped flowers because they hold more nectar.
They reach down the trumpet flowers for the tasty nectar. They don't suck up the nectar, they lap it up with their tongue.
Plant some of their favorite flowers like, petunia, bee balm, trumpet vine, fuchsias or honeysuckle.
If there aren't enough flowers for them, they are more than happy to come to our feeders. We can make hummingbird food and put up a feeder for them.
When the nest is complete she will lay 2 eggs a 1/2" in size. The eggs will hatch in 12 to 14 days.
The tiny birds are naked and blind when they hatch. They are no larger than a penny. Mom feeds them regurgitated insects and spiders mixed with nectar.
They grow fast and after three weeks they will start exercising their wings on the side of the nest.
After they leave the nest mom will continue to feed them for a few days until they are able to find food on their own.
In the fall, August to September depending on exactly where they live, the adults head south for the winter.
The males are the first to make the long trip. The adult females leave later.
The juveniles hang back and eat and then head south weeks after the older hummingbirds have already left.
The next spring they fly the long way back to the area where they were hatched. They return to the same area and sometimes to the same nest and feeders, they used the year before.
Many hummingbirds live on the average of four to five years. The Ruby throated Hummingbirds may live from seven to nine years, maybe ten.
They come back to the same place each year, mostly to the area where they hatched. They remember where they found their favorite flowers and feeders the year before.
We had a female Ruby-throat in Florida. She would tell me if I didn't have the feeder up in the spring. She would fly around looking in all the window near where her feeder was hanging the year before.