Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)
- Ruby-throated males have metallic green backs, black chins, metallic red throats and white underparts. Females lack the black chins and red throats.
- Life History
Few birds give more enjoyment to backyard birdwatchers than hummingbirds. Here in Texas we have seen at least 17 different species. Most are found in far west or south Texas or along the coast during the winter. All hummingbirds are attracted to red, tubular flowers. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are extremely territorial. They will vigorously defend a feeder or a group of flowers from other hummingbirds, hawk moths, and butterflies.
Ruby-throats migrate through Texas in large numbers in the fall and mass along the coast, gaining critical bodyweight before attempting to cross the Gulf of Mexico. Male hummingbirds arrive first and establish a territory that they vigorously defend. Females are courted by the males flying in a u-shaped pattern in front of them. Nests are made from lichens and spiderwebs and lined with plant down.
Hummingbirds are the only birds able to fly backwards! These tiny birds eat flower nectar and small insects. They often eat their own weight in food each day. Hummingbirds can drop their body temperature and become dormant during times of low food or cold weather. This process is called torpor. Hummingbirds get the protein they need in their diet by eating the small insects and spiders they find in flowers.
- Ruby-throated hummingbirds are found throughout the eastern part of Texas and the U.S. and southern Canada. They migrate to Mexico south through Costa Rica for the winter.