There’s nothing quite like the experience of spotting a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, especially in the city. It usually happens so fast and you’re almost left questioning whether it was in fact a bird that you saw or if it was a large insect.
Since our interaction with this incredible and colourful bird can be so brief, we would like to share a list of 10 things you might not know about the Ruby-throated Hummingbird:
1. Flying Solo
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are solitary in nature and the males don’t stick around long. Pairs are only together for courtship and mating , which is just a matter of days to weeks, then the males go off on their own again.
2. Favourite Colours
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds prefer to feed on red or orange flowers because of their high sugar content. However, this does not mean that the sugar water in hummingbird feeders should be coloured! Like many other birds, hummingbirds have a good color vision and can see into the ultraviolet spectrum, which humans can’t see.
3. Long Distance Travel
Although their bodies are small, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can fly over 3000 kilometers from eastern North American, crossing over 1000 kilometers of the Gulf of Mexico, to winter in Central America in just one flight.
4. Record Holder
On average, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have only about 940 feathers, which are all replaced every year. Because of this, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds hold the record for having the least number of feathers of any bird!
5. I’m not short I’m fun size
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have extremely short legs which prevent them from walking or hopping. At best, they can shuffle along the surface they are perched on.
Usually, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds make their nests on the branch of a deciduous or coniferous tree. However, because of increased human habitation, they have adapted to make their nests on loops of chain, wire, and extension cords.
7. Putting the “Hum” in Hummingbird
Like other hummingbirds, the “humming” sound that the Ruby-throated Hummingbird makes is actually the sound of their rapid wing beats.
8. Superb Aerialists
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are able to hover in place with wingbeat frequencies of around 53 beats per second. They can also fly in a straight line, up, down, and backwards.
Like other hummingbirds, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds play an important role in pollination of the flowers of many different species of shrubs and vines, some of which are specifically adapted to pollination by hummingbirds!
10. Representing the North
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are eastern North America’s only breeding hummingbird. They are also the most widespread among all hummingbird species.
Keep and eye out for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds on your next visit to High Park!