Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, Archilochus colubris

A flash of green and red, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is eastern North America’s sole breeding hummingbird. These brilliant, tiny, precision-flying creatures glitter like jewels in the full sun, then vanish with a zip toward the next nectar source. Feeders and flower gardens are great ways to attract these birds, and some people turn their yards into buzzing clouds of hummingbirds each summer.

Read more to learn about the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird spring migration to Wisconsin: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Spring Migration). Enjoy them while they’re around.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Archilochus colubris Find Ruby-throated Hummingbirds by wandering flowering gardens or woodland edges at the height of summer, or by putting up a hummingbird feeder or visiting a friend who keeps them. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are common in suburbs and towns, and can become quite bold, feeding at hanging plants and feeders on your porch or next to your windows.

Song

A series of rapid squeaky chipping notes.

Behavior

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds fly straight and fast but can stop instantly, hover, and adjust their position up, down, or backwards with exquisite control. They often visit hummingbird feeders and tube-shaped flowers and defend these food sources against others. You may also see them plucking tiny insects from the air or from spider webs.

Feeds primarly on nectar but takes some insects and spiders as well as sap from sapsucker drill wells. n courtship flight it makes huge 180-degree arcs bak and forth while emitting a buzzing sound at its lowest point. Males often arrive on breeding grounds well ahead of females. These birds are strongly attracted to the color red.

Measurements

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Archilochus colubris, identification graphic The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a small hummingbird with a slender, slightly downcurved bill and fairly short wings that don’t reach all the way to the tail when the bird is sitting.

  Length: 2.8-3.5 in (7-9 cm)
  Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz (2-6 g)
  Wingspan: 3.1-4.3 in (8-11 cm)

Color Pattern

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are bright emerald or golden-green on the back and crown, with gray-white underparts. Males have a brilliant iridescent red throat that looks dark when it’s not in good light.

Breeding

Solitary.

Nesting

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Archilochus colubris, with nest Hummingbird nests are tiny architectural gems. Like so many other birds, the hummingbirds, too, show great resourcefulness when it comes to building a safe shelter for their young. Now, tiny as these birds are, the nests they build are even tinier. Most these nest homes are about 1.5-2 inches in diameter and are normally no bigger than, say, a bottle cap or a ping pong ball.

Incubation is 11-16 days by female. Altricial young stay in the nest 20-22 days and are fed by both females. There is one to three broods per year.

Flight Pattern

Very rapid wing beats - up to 75 per second.

Population

Common to fairly common in breeding range.

Bird Feeders

Red columbine in spring. Salvia, trempet or coral huneysucke and bee balm later in the year. Also jewelweed, phlox, petunias, lilies, trumpet creeper, Siberian peatree, nasturtium, cone-shaped red flowers and sugar water.

Robin with nesting materials

Provide Spring Nesting Material

It’s nesting time! Birds are master builders, putting together intricately made weavings of twig and leaf, stem and fluff, hair and moss

Hummingbird Quiz Logo

Hummingbird Quiz

Take this quick quiz and see how much you know about hummingbirds. This quiz is intended for fun, in a random-facts-can-be-cool kind of way.

Hummingbird pollinating a flower

Garden Plan For Birds

This guide features regional native plants for the Great Lakes that are highly attractive to bird pollinators.