Ruby-throated Hummingbird


Common Name
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Scientific Name
Archilochus colubris
Length
3 3/4"
Weight
Weight can range from 2 to 6 g (0.071 to 0.21 oz), with males averaging 3.4 g (0.12 oz) and the slightly larger female averaging 3.8 g (0.13 oz)

Range

The only hummingbird found consistently all over the Eastern U.S. and Canada.

Ruby-throats gather in Florida, Louisiana and along the South Texas coast in September in preparation for the final push to the south, either over the Gulf of Mexico or via an overland route through Mexico.

First arrivals in the spring, usually males, are back in Texas and Louisiana in late February to mid-March. In more northern states and Canadian provinces, first arrivals are not until April or May.

While most will migrate to Mexico and further south, some Ruby-throats do spend the winter along the U.S. Gulf Coast, from Texas to Florida, and some along the southern Atlantic coastal regions.

Lifespan of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird

The average life span is estimated by experts to be 3 - 5 years. Most deaths occur in the first year of life. The record age of a banded ruby-throated hummingbird is 6 years, 11 months.

Characteristics and Identification

Very rare forms of Albino and white Leucistic Ruby-throated Hummingbirds do exist.

The Ruby-throated and Broad-tailed are similar in many ways. But they occupy separate ranges, Ruby-throats in the Eastern US and Broad-tails in the Western US.

And the red gorget of the male Ruby-throat can appear black in certain light and at certain angles, as seen in the comparison photos below.

Male Ruby-throated hummingbird seen in different lighting
An adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird featuring a beautiful ruby, or red, gorget (throat)
An adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird in poor lighting featuring a dark black gorget (throat)

The "classic" view (left) of the adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird features a beautiful ruby, or red, gorget (throat). Yet a quick turn of the head, or a change of the angle/intensity of the lighting, can change the gorget to black (right)!

The feathers of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird contain no pigment. So in bright light it appears an iridescent red, while in poor light the gorget can appear black. The black gorget can make some nature lovers assume they are seeing a Black-chinned Hummingbird. When seeing a hummingbird like this, be sure to check normal species range maps to see what type of bird typically appears in your area (see map below).

An adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird featuring a beautiful ruby, or red, gorget (throat) An adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird in poor lighting featuring a dark black gorget (throat)

Male and female Ruby-throated hummingbird identification

The adult male has a brilliant ruby red throat (gorget), black chin, and a deeply notched, forked tail. Males use a repeating "pendulum" arch of flight to attract females.

The female's throat is white, and immature males are similar in color to the female. The female body is slender, with a blunt, rounded tail with white corners. When perched, the tail is slightly longer than the folded wingtips.

Male and female Ruby-throated hummingbird side-by-side comparison

Map showing the approximate breeding ranges of four major hummingbird species in North America: Rufous, Anna's, Black-chinned and Ruby-throated
Comparison of the Broad-tailed, Ruby-throated and Black-chinned hummingbirds


Included below is a map showing the average spring migration arrival dates for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in North America. Arrival dates vary from year to year and from location to location, depending on a number of weather-related conditions and other environmental factors.
Map showing the average spring migration arrival dates for Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds in North America

 

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird enjoying necar from California Giant Zinnias!
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird feeding on a pink Giant Zinnia, August 12, 2015, in East Texas

Ruby-throated Hummingbird ... yes, it IS my feeder!
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird- Spring of 2017

Ruby-throated Hummingbird at feeder amidst Tropical Milkweed
Ruby-throated Hummingbird at feeder amidst Tropical Milkweed

Group of Ruby Throat Hummingbirds at feeder - East Texas
Hummingbirds hovering at feeder in Texas

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird feeding ... and hovering!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird ... sitting stunned after flying into a window ... it was fine, and flew off!
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird ... sitting stunned after flying into a window ... it was fine, and flew off!


Beautiful adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird in North Carolina
Ruby-throated Hummingbird in North Carolina
(Photography by Sina Norris)

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird hovering in mid-air
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

 

Young male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird at feeder in San Antonio, Texas
Ruby-throated Hummingbird at feeder in San Antonio, Texas
(Photo by and courtesy of Norman Joe Collins)

Maybe a bit chilly! Fluffed-up Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Fluffed-up Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird ... Sitting alone on a lawn chair!

 

The World of Nature, Series V, "Among Our Feathered Friends" ... the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, card distributed by the Coca-Cola Co., circa 1930s
The World of Nature, Series V

"Among Our Feathered Friends" - #10 The Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Distributed by the Coca-Cola Company - Circa 1930s

Card size of 2-1/2" x 4", with artwork by Lynn Bogue Hunt

(from the author's collection)

 

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