About The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
The ruby-throated hummingbird is named as such because of the red color around its throat. Its hummingbird name, however, is taken from the hum sound produced by the bird’s rapid wing motion which may rise or fall depending on the wing speed. This tiny bird beats its wings at a speed of about 55 to 75 times per second.
The ruby-throated hummingbird is a small bird about 3.5 inches long and weighing about 3.1 grams. It is the adult male that has a red throat with emerald green back, gray flanks and forked tail. The adult female is bigger than the male, with emerald green back, white breast and throat and longer bill.
This bird is probably the most common species that breeds in the eastern section of North America. They are the ones you see hovering at flowers with long black bills that allow them to sip nectar.
The North American hummingbirds share a medium length bill which allows them to feed on different plants while those in South America have longer or curved bills that somehow match the shape of specific flowers. The South American hummingbird is usually the only pollinator of a single plant. In fact, it is said that the hummingbird pollination has greatly influenced the evolution of some 19 species of plants in the eastern part of the U.S. Ruby-throated hummingbirds feed on nectar of more than 30 plants.
The ruby-throated hummingbird is diurnal meaning it is very active the whole day. During the cold winter months, they enter a staged called “hypothermic torpor” which enables them to save energy. This stage is like hibernation in that the bird’s body cools down to several degrees while its bodily functions slow down to save enough energy.
These birds are also migratory flying between their breeding and winter grounds. Did you know that many of these hummingbirds migrate to a distance of about 1,600 kilometers back and forth each year? They fly unceasingly across the Gulf of Mexico for about 18 to 20 hours. To endure this long journey, hummingbirds need to double their body weight before they start migrating. Some of their population flies from Florida to Yucatan but majority migrates around the Gulf through Texas and northern Mexico. Most spend winter in Central America and even as far south as Panama. Their return to their breeding grounds is usually timed with the flowering of food plants in a certain region.