The ruby-throated hummingbird is a delight to watch as it flits from flower to feeder and back again, The tiny bird will reward onlookers with flashes of it’s jewel-tone throat (called gorgets) as it tries to satisfy its hunger. To attract more of these red-throated beauties to your landscape, think red. Use hummingbird feeders with lots of red on them and tie a red bow or ribbon on top for an additional red attraction. Create an irresistible triple play by planting red blooming flowers nearby and you’re almost guaranteed to have ruby-throated hummingbirds visit you this summer.
As the name suggests, the ruby-throated hummingbird has a brilliant red throat, white breast and jewel-toned green back. But only the adult male has the name-sake color combination. Female and juveniles have white breasts, jewel-toned green backs and crowns, but lack the brilliant red throat color.
Hummingbirds can fly forwards, backwards, sideways, up and down. They hover like a helicopter at flowers and feeders and can change flight direction on a dime.
Males court females by flying back and forth in a swinging pendulum pattern, humming with each arc. Male hummingbirds are often territorial bullies and will chase off any other male that comes near ‘their’ feeders or females, allowing only their females and offspring to feed from a certain feeder. To outsmart a bully ruby-throat and attract more hummingbirds, place a second feeder out of sight of the first feeder. The dominate male can only guard one feeder at time.
In addition to their amazing flying abilities, hummingbirds can put themselves into a near hibernation stage, called Torpor, if temperatures drop to freezing during the early spring so they can conserve body heat and energy. Torpor is also their sleeping state.
Habitats and Nests
Ruby-throated hummingbirds love an easy meal from red vessels. They hang around backyard garden areas and yards that have sugar water feeders and nearby trees for camouflage and nesting.
Few will ever spot a hummingbird’s nest, even when looking right at it. The tiny nest is about the size of a walnut and looks like a moss-covered tree knot. The female ruby-throat builds the nest, covers it will greenish-gray lichens and attaches the nest to a tree limb with spider silk. Most hummingbird nests are built between 10-20 feet off the ground to protect the hatchlings from predators. The female will lay two eggs, each the size of pinto bean, and incubates them for 14-16 days. After the eggs are hatched, the female will feed the tiny babies a diet of nectar, insects and bits of fruit for 3 weeks, after which the juveniles will be on their own.
World of Hummingbirds