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

There are 330-340 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.

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.

Bird With the Smallest Number of Feathers

The ruby-throated hummingbird holds a record: Of all birds worldwide, it is the one with the smallest number of feathers. While the whistling swan has about 25,000 feathers, the ruby-throated hummingbird does not have more than about 940.

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

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 Hummingbirds Have a Lot of Stamina

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: mbolina/Shutterstock

Males and Females Have Different Plumages

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.

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

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.

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

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