Species Spotlight: Ruby-throated Hummingbird

©David Johnson
©John Litts

Looks like: This tiny hummingbird has a bright green back and crown and a grey-white belly. Males have an iridescent red throat.

Lives in: Open deciduous woods, fields, and stream borders.

©John Litts

Niche: Hummingbirds hover to feed on the nectar of red or orange tubular flowers such as trumpet creeper, honeysuckle, and jewelweed. They also drink sap from trees that have been drilled open by yellow-bellied sapsuckers.

Threats: Sudden cold weather can be fatal for these high-metabolism birds.

Frequency: Uncommon in spring, common in summer, and rare in fall

© David Johnson

Reproduction: Mating occurs in late April or early May shortly after arrival. Hummingbirds build nests from thistle, dandelion down, spider silk, and moss, and place them directly on tree branches. Eggs are white. Chicks hatch in about 2 weeks and then fledge about 3 weeks later.

Fun facts: This hummingbird beats its wings more than 50 times per second. Its extremely short legs prevent it from walking or hopping, so it shuffles along a perch–but is agile enough to scratch its head and neck by stretching its foot.

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