Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Hey guys welcome back! Today’s bird is the ruby-throated hummingbird; the eastern US’s only breeding species of hummingbird. If you live out west, then hummingbirds are a much more common occurrence for you. The western US has numerous species, but east of the Mississippi, save for the occasional wandering rufous hummingbird, you’ll only find one. Despite this (or maybe because of it), the ruby-throated hummingbird has the largest breeding range of any North American hummingbird!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird1
A male ruby-throated hummingbird eats from a feeder. Note how without direct sunlight, the ruby throat appears nearly black! Concord, OH

Hummingbirds are placed in the taxonomic order Apodiformes, which means “without feet.” as they lack the ability to really walk or hop around on foot. They can perch and will kind of shuffle along a branch at times. Swifts are also in this order as they don’t perch really at all, making the chimney swift the hummingbird’s closest taxonomic relative! Taxonomy be crazy.

The ruby-throated hummingbird is a regular migrant throughout the east, arriving typically in May and staying around into October. The males are a metallic green above, and white below with a metallic iridescent red throat that sometimes looks black if the light is not hitting it right. The females lack this brightly colored throat, simply having a white throat instead. As many of you are probably aware, hummingbirds primarily eat nectar, or sugar water from hummingbird feeders. They also, however, enjoy small insects such as aphids. If using a feeder, just make sure you change the water every few days so the sugar doesn’t ferment. You can also plant native tube flowers. Cardinal flower and jewel weed are particular favorites of these guys (just be careful, jewel weed can take over very quickly!) The ruby-throated hummingbird is a sure sign of spring, and are always a welcome sight to any backyard! Next up, a plucky little duck with a red head! See you then!

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