(Archilochus colubris)  

Quick Facts

Many of these tiny birds cross the Gulf of Mexico when migrating, a distance of approximately 1300 kilometres (800 mi.) This is flown in one stretch, without stopping, resting or feeding.

The males and females travel apart during migration. The males precede the females.

Hummingbirds 'display' during confrontations, hanging the air and moving up and down together in a kind of mid-air ballet.

Their heart rates are 615 beats per minute.

They have been clocked flying at speeds up to 80-100 km per hour (50 - 60 miles per hour.)

If the average human were to consume as much food as a hummingbird, he or she would have to eat 103 kilograms (228 pounds) daily!

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are one of the smallest hummingbirds. They are 7 to 8 centimetres long (3 to 3 inches,) and their spread wings measure 10 to 12 centimetres (4 to 4 3/4 inches.) They weigh between 2.4 grams to 4.5 grams, with the females being slightly larger than the males.

Hummingbirds have long narrow beaks which are hollow in the middle so that the tongue can slide in and out without the bird having to open their beaks. Their long tongues make it easy for them to sip nectar from flowers. Hummingbirds have short legs and tiny feet that grip strongly.

Hummingbirds prefer to live in areas where there are many flowers available. They live in gardens, woods, orchards and the margins of forests. They prefer to live and nest in trees at least five to twenty feet above the ground. They like down-sloping branches with leaves overhead to shelter them. They prefer to sleep on small twigs at the ends of branches, where no predators can reach them.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds eat insects and nectar from many flowering plants. They are attracted to the colour red.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds nest from March to July and may raise anywhere from one to three broods of young throughout that time. The young are ready to leave the nest when they are twenty to twenty-two days old.

In flight, their wings move so rapidly that they are a blur. When hovering, their wings beat 55 times a second. When they are backing up, their wings beat 61 times a second. When they are flying forward, their wings beat 75 times a second.

Hummingbirds chase each other, uttering sharp, jerky notes. When they pass by, they make a 'zoom' or 'hum' sound. If they were chasing each other near you, you'd hear a sound like the Tie Fighters in Star Wars!

Ruby-throated hummingbirds have the least number of feathers of any bird. They have a total of 940 feathers.


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Hummingbirds: Prepared for IWRC by:

Penny Elliston, New Mexico, USA
Astrid MacLeod, Manitoba, Canada
Joe MacLeod, Manitoba, Canada

Photos by:

Corel PhotoCD Series
Joe MacLeod,  Manitoba, Canada