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Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Facts

Size 2.7-3.5 in (7-9 cm); 3.1-4.3 in (8-11 cm) (wingspan)
Speed Up to 30 mph (48 km/h)
Weight 0.07-0.2 oz (2-6 g)
Lifespan 3-5 years
Food Nectar, tree sap, insects, spiders
Predators Falcons, Eurasian jays, cats
Habitat Breeding territory: North America, winter habitat: Central America
Order Apodiformes
Family Hummingbird
Scientific name Archilochus colubris
Characteristics Long thin bill, able to fly backwards

Main Characteristics

Hummingbirds are birds that can fly backwards. They’re also known for using their beaks to drink nectar from flowers. The ruby-throated hummingbird is the only one to live in eastern Canada and the USA, so much further north than others. The ruby-throated hummingbird also has other special features: Of all birds, it has the fewest feathers and flaps its wings the fastest.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (female) - Photo: Matt Cuda/Shutterstock


There more than 330 species of hummingbirds. They exclusively live in America, most of them near the equator, mainly in South America. The ruby-throated hummingbird is the only one living in the east of Canada and the USA.


Anatomy and Appearance

Fewest Feathers

The ruby-throated hummingbird holds a record: Of all birds worldwide, it is the one with the least amount of feathers. While the whistling swan has about 25,000 feathers, the ruby-throated hummingbird has about 940.

Difference Between Males and Females

When having a look at our picture gallery, you could think that it shows two different species of birds. But all pictures show ruby-throated hummingbirds. The throats of the males have a distinct red and shimmering color and a greenish back. The females have a white throat and are generally less flashy and colorful. With good reason as this makes it much more difficult for enemies to detect them.


Fastest Wing Beat

The ruby-throated hummingbird is one of the fastest birds. Not because of its speed when flying. Of all birds, the ruby-throated hummingbird has the fastest wing beat.

The ruby-throated hummingbird beats its wings up to 200 times per second. Just do the math real quick: 200 times a second is 12,000 times a minute! You could calculate how many beats per hour that would be, but hummingbirds rarely stay in the air that long - usually only when they’re flying south.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (male) - Photo: mbolina/Shutterstock


Senses and Abilities


When winter comes to their breeding territory in North America, it is getting extremely cold. Too cold for the little birds. Therefore they make a move and fly to Central America, where it is nice and warm. For this they cover a distance of 1,200 miles (2,000 km) and manage a 500 miles (800 km) nonstop flight over the Gulf of Mexico (a huge bay). This flight takes 18-22 hours and these little birds sure need a lot of energy to complete this amazing journey. Before they start off, they stuff themselves with food and double their weight.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (male) - Photo: Holly Miller-Pollack/Shutterstock

Enemies and Threats

Ruby-throated hummingbirds have many enemies. Not only birds of prey, snakes, cats, and reptiles are threats for the ruby-throated hummingbird. As the bird is so small, it also has to watch out for the praying mantis, orb-weavers, and green darners.

Fun Facts

The Sun Makes the Plumage Shine

If the sun shines on the plumage of the ruby-throated hummingbird, it starts to shimmer beautifully. In the shade, the animals appear fairly gray and dull. There are additional infos on their iridiscent feathers in our general hummingbird profile.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (female) - Photo: Kerry Hargrove/Shutterstock

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