Ed Golson Outdoor Education

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Scientific Name: Archilochus colubris

Description:  The ruby-throated hummingbird is one of the smallest birds in Michigan, averaging in size of about 3 inches long.  Now that's tiny!  Male hummingbirds have very distinguished red throats with an iridescent, or shiny, green back and crown.  The female, unlike the male, has a completely white underside, but they too have an iridescent green back and crown.  Other distinguishable characteristics of these birds are their long and extremely thin beaks , and their wings which "buzz" at an amazing 53 beats per second!

Habitat:  These birds live in deciduous and coniferous forests.  Durin g the winter they can travel 500 miles to a more tropical forest in the south.  Fe males build the nests on downward sloping branches near the ground.  Nests are usually built out of leafy material and scales and are held together from the nest s of spiders or the tent of cocoons.  Once the nest is built, it is decorated with lichens.  Unlike other birds, hummingbirds will often reuse their nests.  Also after the nest is built, they are ready to breed.  The female will lay 2 bean-sized eggs and raise them alone.   

Feeding:  Hummingbirds depend mostly on nectar for nutrition.  If a nectar feeder is placed outside, humans can watch these birds from their homes because hummingbirds will come up to the feeders and eat.  Usually they will come back again if they like what was put inside.  In addition to nectar, small insects are important to these birds' diets.  Gnats, spiders, bees, and flies are eaten at flowers or even under the bark of some trees. 

Click to hear the hummingbird.

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