Adult male ruby-throated Hummingbird
Adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
(Photo © HBSG, Inc.)

  • Length -- 3.5 inches
  • Weight -- 3.1 grams
  • Body temp -- 105°- 108°F
  • Wing beat -- 40 to 80 per second
  • Respiration -- 250 per minute
  • Heart rate -- 250 bpm resting
    1200 beats per minute feeding
  • Flight speed -- 30 mph normal speed
  • Escape speed -- 50 mph
  • Eyes -- We think hummingbirds have about 8x binocular vision and can see your feeder from about 3/4 of a mile.
  • Tongue -- The tongue is longer than the bill and is forked on the end, it has small wavy membranes on the sides that soak up the nectar and each time the bird ejects the tongue it squeezes the nectar into it's mouth. It actually laps the nectar out of flowers and feeders like a cat.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

(Archilochus colubris)

Description: Adult male -- Emerald green back, ruby red throat (gorget), sometimes with what appears to be a light ring around the neck. Sides and flanks dirty gray with no white tips on the tail feathers. The tail is a deep V-shape. The adult male Ruby-throated has a longer tail and shorter bill than the female.Adult female -- Emerald green back with no gorget, white tips on the rounder tail, whitish breast and throat. Bill longer and tail shorter than the males. Immature males and females -- Like the adult female except the male usually has some ruby red spots on the throat. Very young birds look confused and fluffy.

female onnest
Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird incubating eggs
(Photo © HBSG, Inc.)

Nests: The Ruby-throated Hummingbird female does all the work. This is true of all species of hummers. She builds the nest, lays the eggs, feeds and cares for the young birds with no help from the male. All he does is fertilize the eggs. Hummingbirds don't pair like some other birds. The male mates with as many females as possible but the female does choose the male. Ruby-throated Humming-birds nest as low as 5 feet or as high as 50 feet but normally about 18-20 feet. Most nests found in our area are in pine trees, on pencil sized, downturned limbs. The nest is constructed from the down of dandelions and thistle, attached to the limb with spider webbing and covered with naturally occurring lichens that grow on trees. The nests are about the size of an English Walnut. They are sometimes reworked and used year after year. The female lays two white eggs about the size of a black-eyed pea. They are laid 2-3 days apart and incubation begins when the first egg is laid, therefore they hatch 2-3 days apart. It takes 12-14 days for the eggs to hatch and the nestlings stay in the nest for 18-22 days. The oldest bird remains in the area of the nest until the youngest bird is ready to fly. After a short time the young are just like any other bird, competition for the food.

Remember: It is a violation of Federal law to take or possess bird feathers and nests without the proper permits.

Migration: Most Ruby-throated Hummingbirds appear to migrate across the Gulf of Mexico two times a year, spring and fall. They winter in Central America and Mexico. It takes about 18 to 24 hours for the hummingbirds to fly across the Gulf. They arrive on the U.S. Gulf coast in late February or early March. We believe they advance northward at approximately 18 miles per day. The bulk of the population has normally vacated the United States by November. 1st They are regularly seen as late as November 15th along the Gulf coast. The long migration process takes a heavy toll on young and old birds alike. You will always see fewer birds during spring migration and nesting season (March-June) than you do during the fall migration (July-September).

© The Hummer/Bird Study Group, Inc. This site last updated 5/29/12