Tricia Booker Photography

King Of The Feeder

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

For the past week or so we’ve had a very strong-willed male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird defending one of our feeders. We have this particular feeder sitting on the deck rail, so he’s decided the wire hanger makes the perfect place for protecting his precious food.

In this image he’d just puffed up his feathers after stretching his wings. He’s obviously quite comfortable on this perch and even defends his place when we sit outside on the deck in the evenings. After he dive-bombs us and squeaks his warnings, he’ll take his place on the feeder or a nearby tree branch and watch our every move.

In an effort to read more about these wonderful birds, I checked out one of my favorite websites tonight: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Their list of facts about Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds includes a few that I didn’t know.

Cool Facts

  • The Ruby-throated Hummingbird beats its wings about 53 times a second.
  • The extremely short legs of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird prevent it from walking or hopping. The best it can do is shuffle along a perch. Nevertheless, it scratches its head and neck by raising its foot up and over its wing.
  • Scientists place hummingbirds and swifts in the same taxonomic order, the Apodiformes. The name means “without feet,” which is certainly how these birds look most of the time.
  • The Ruby-throated Hummingbird does not show a strong preference for any particular color of feeder. Instead, it prefers specific feeder locations.
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbirds prefer to feed on red or orange flowers. Like many birds, they have good color vision and can see into the ultraviolet spectrum, which humans can’t see.
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbirds normally place their nest on a branch of a deciduous or coniferous tree; however, these birds are accustomed to human habitation and have been known to nest on loops of chain, wire, and extension cords.
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are eastern North America’s only breeding hummingbird. But in terms of area, this species occupies the largest breeding range of any North American hummingbird.
  • Male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds don’t stick around long. Pairs are together long enough for courtship and mating – just a matter of days to weeks. Then he’s off on his own, and may begin migration by early August.
  • The oldest known Ruby-throated Hummingbird was 9 years 1 month old.

This male doesn’t always chase away the female that uses the feeders, so perhaps she’s his mate. Or, he had an equally strong mother who taught him good manners!

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