Bird of the Week: Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Brian Kushner

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a beautiful and hyperactive little bird, sometimes mistaken for an insect due to its small size and ability to remain stationary while in flight–an ability shared with no other family of birds. In much of their breeding range, which covers the eastern United States, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only hummingbird you are likely to see. In central Texas, however, its range overlaps with the Black-chinned Hummingbird–which has a frustratingly similar appearance. The chief difference between these two diminutive birds is an iridescent patch of color at their throats, which is red on the Ruby-throated and purple on the Black-chinned. Unfortunately, these patches are generally only visible in bright sunlight, and are entirely absent on females! Despite their size, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are heroic fliers during migration season: some birds will cross the Gulf of Mexico in a single flight!

Compiled by Owen Moorhead. Sources include the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society.