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10 interesting facts about hummingbird behavior

10 interesting facts about hummingbird behavior

Hummingbirds have captivated hearts and fascinated birders for as long as they’ve been around! Their incredibly quick flight pattern, cute chirping sounds, and sometimes questionable behavior have us oohing, aahing, and wondering what our hummers are getting up to each day!

annas hummingbird

Pictured: Male Anna’s Hummingbird

Here are 10 interesting facts you might not have known about hummingbird behavior:

Why do hummingbirds hum?

Is it because they don’t remember the words? You may have heard this one before, but all jokes aside, the humming we hear comes not from their voice, but the sound of the hummingbird’s wings as they flap. When birds flap their wings, most species will create lift and drag on the downstroke of the wingbeat, making a “whoosh” sound. At 40 beats per second, hummingbirds create lift and drag during both the downward and upward stroke of each wingbeat! The force and volume of these wingbeats makes the familiar “hum” noise that earned the hummingbird its name.

How do hummingbirds eat?

A hummingbird has a tongue that can stretch twice as long as its beak. Their tongues are forked and are lined with lamellae, which are tiny, hair-like barbs that extend outwards as they open their beaks and stick out their tongues. When they retract their long tongue back into their beak, it coils up inside their head, wrapping around their skull. The average hummingbird’s beak can range from 15mm-21mm (.59in-.82in) in length, meaning its tongue can stretch up to 1.6 inches long!

As a hummingbird extends its tongue into a flower, dish or nectar feeder port to drink, the lamellae spread from the forks in their tongue, capturing the nectar by quickly curling back up towards the tongue and trapping it as the tongue fully retracts into their head. Hummingbirds can flick their tongues in and out of nectar as many as 20 times per second!

hummingbird tongue

Pictured: Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Why do hummingbirds migrate?

Needing to eat every 10-15 minutes to retain energy, hummingbirds consume the equivalent of 150,000 calories per day for their metabolic rate! During the cooler months, many locations lack the flowering plants and shelter that hummingbirds need to survive. As fall draws nearer, hummingbirds will set out on their journey to find locations with better resources through the winter.

Why do hummingbirds like red?

As you look for an attractive hummingbird feeder, chances are you’ll find an abundance of red, red and more red! Why do hummingbirds seem to gravitate towards this fiery color? Scientists have studied to find the answer to this tricky question. Research has shown that while hummingbirds have a heightened sensitivity to the red and yellow end of the color spectrum, they’re also attracted to many more colors that humans can only imagine - so don't let that limit your feeder choices!

red hummingbird feeder

Pictured: Female Allen’s Hummingbirds on Modern Hummingbird Feeder - Solid Red (Model# MHF4)

Why do hummingbirds hang upside-down?

If you ever come across a hummingbird hanging upside-down from a branch or a hummingbird feeder, there’s no need to panic! The most likely cause of this backwards behavior is actually sleep. Hummingbird sleep, or torpor, is a state of lowered body temperature and metabolic activity that allows hummingbirds to conserve energy. Torpor occurs most often in cold conditions but can sometimes happen during hot days as the body’s response to save energy. Torpor can last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, so if you see a hummingbird hanging upside-down for a long period of time, leave them alone and they will eventually awaken in search of nectar to recover.

Why do hummingbirds chase each other?

Seeing your sweet hummingbirds become bullies at the bird feeder can leave you wondering how something so cute can exhibit such hostile behavior! There are a few reasons why hummingbirds fight and chase each other around feeders and flowers. Although they’re one of the world’s smallest birds, these tiny fighters can show great aggression to claim their territory from other hummingbirds by charging, chasing, and even following the intruder far away from the feeding area.

Male hummingbirds will also chase and dive at females during courtship attempts. This impressive show of territorial behavior also allows the male to chirp loud and clear directly at their potential mates.

How do hummingbirds communicate?

Although hummingbirds aren’t capable of producing complex songs like other wild birds, they do have a variety of chirps, calls, and squeals they use to interact with each other. What they may lack in vocal communication, they make up for in physical displays of behavior. Hummingbirds are known to show their feelings by chasing, tracking, diving, and charging at each other during displays of courtship and territorial defense.

When do hummingbirds eat?

Like other wild birds, hummingbirds are most likely to come out and visit a feeder around dawn and dusk, or early in the morning and late in the afternoon before sunset. But since they have one of the highest metabolic rates of all backyard birds, hummingbirds need to eat almost constantly to keep their energy up. That means hummingbirds can be seen feeding at various times throughout the day!

hummingbird feeder

Pictured: Ruby-throated Hummingbirds on Artisan Gravity Hummingbird Feeder - Sunny Day (Model# AGF3)

What do hummingbirds do in the winter?

Not all hummingbirds migrate! Most hummingbirds in the United States and Canada will travel south in search of nectar-rich flowers, insects, and longer daylight hours. But one type of hummingbird has begun to stick it out through the Pacific Northwest winters. The Anna’s Hummingbird has been known to stay year-round in regions ranging from Seattle, Washington to Vancouver, BC. How do hummingbirds survive the winter in these chilly locations? Winters here are mild, with temperatures around 45°F (7°C) during the day and only about 5 in/12 cm of snowfall per year. Many winter-blooming flowers, along with plenty of generous hummingbird feeder hosts, are able to provide the nectar hummingbirds need to generate the energy to stay warm in the colder weather and occasional snowfall.

hummingbird feeder in snow

Pictured: Male Anna’s Hummingbird on Illuminated Hummingbird Feeder (Model# GHF7)

How do hummingbirds find feeders?

Most hummingbirds are migratory birds, meaning they leave and return from a specific area seasonally. Hummingbirds have excellent memories. As they return from migration and end up in their ultimate destination, they will remember the source of their first meals - oftentimes coming back to the same feeders repeatedly. They have even been known to return to the same feeders and flowers from their birthplace! For the best chance of attracting hummingbirds to your hummingbird feeder, it is recommended to have them up and ready about two weeks before they typically return from their winter migration.

 

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5 most common hummingbirds in the US and Canada

5 most common hummingbirds in the US and Canada

There are over 330 species of hummingbirds found in the world, but less than two dozen of them are common enough to be found in the US and Canada. Because of their small size, quick flight pattern and migratory nature, hummingbirds can be tricky to spot, and even more difficult to distinguish between. Let’s take a look at how you can identify the 5 most common backyard hummingbirds.

5 most common hummingbirds

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird
Allen’s Hummingbird
Difference between Allen’s and Rufous Hummingbird
What hummingbirds eat
How hummingbirds nest
How to attract hummingbirds

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Identifying Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds: Beating their wings on average 53 times per second, these quick little birds are a bright emerald green on the back of the head down to the tail. While both male and female have a grey-white underside, only the males have a very distinct ruby red patch on their throat. The shade of red and size of the patch can vary from bird to bird, with the feathers sometimes appearing very dark until catching the light.

 male ruby throated hummingbird female ruby throated hummingbird

Left: male. Right: female.

Where Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds Live:

This particular species of hummingbird lives in forest edges, meadows, grasslands, open woodlands, and in gardens, parks, and backyards. During the summer months of breeding season these birds can be found across the Eastern half of the United States and the southern portion of Canada. This is the only species of hummingbird found in the Eastern United States. Despite their small stature, most of these little birds make the amazing trek all the way to southern Mexico for winter months, while a small number may remain in the southern most tip of Florida.

Anna’s Hummingbird

Identifying Anna's Hummingbirds:

At just under 4 inches in length, Anna's hummingbirds are small in comparison to other birds but in the hummingbird realm they are medium-sized and somewhat stocky. Mostly pale gray on the underside with an iridescent emerald green back, tail, and wings (sometimes also extended around the abdomen), the Anna's hummingbird is distinguishable from the Rufous hummingbird because it lacks any orange or rust-colored markings. While sometimes appearing a dull brown without direct sunlight, the male's face and throat are covered with brilliantly colored fuchsia feathers.

 annas hummingbird annas hummingbirds at hummingbird feeder

Left: male. Right: females.

Where Anna's Hummingbirds Live:

These dazzling jewels can be found year-round along the western coast of the US and into Arizona. Occasionally Anna's hummingbirds can be seen in parts of New Mexico in winter months and in rare occasions they can be sighted north along the very coastal western strip of Canada.

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Identifying Black-chinned Hummingbirds:

These quick little birds are a dull metallic green on the back of the head down to the tail. While both male and female have a grey-white underside, only the males have a very distinct black patch on their throat. The shape and size of the patch can vary from bird to bird, with a thin iridescent purple strip at the base, sometimes unnoticeable until catching the light.

 male black chinned hummingbird female black chinned hummingbird

Left: male. Right: female. [Photo credits to: Joan Gellatly | Flickr & ©Marky Mutchler | Macaulay Library]

Where Black-chinned Hummingbirds Live:

These hummingbirds inhabit the Western United States during breeding season. They can be found in Texas, New Mexico, parts of Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana and West to the Pacific Coast. They have even been found to travel as far North as the southern part of British Columbia. After the breeding season, some adults will first move to higher altitude mountain habitats where flowers are still abundant because making the long migration south to winter in western Mexico.

Rufous Hummingbird

Identifying Rufous Hummingbirds:

These small hummingbirds are roughly 2.8-3.5 inches in length and have fairly straight bills and short wings that don't reach the end of the tapered tail when perched. Male Rufous hummingbirds are fiery orange in good light with a bright iridescent red throat. Females are green on their backs with rust colored feathers on their flanks, tail, and often a small patch of orange on the throat as well. Both male and female Rufous hummingbirds are aggressive and can typically be found performing aerial launches to chase off any other hummingbirds that appear, even in areas where they're spending only a short amount of time passing through for migration.

male rufous hummingbird female rufous hummingbird

Left: male. Right: female.

Where Rufous Hummingbirds Live:

During summer breeding season this particular species of hummingbird resides mainly in the Pacific Northwest into the Southwestern strip of Canada in open or shrubby areas of forest openings, yards, and parks, and can also sometimes be found in thickets, swamps, and meadows ranging from sea level to about 6,000 feet. When in their wintering grounds in Mexico, these hummingbirds are found between 7,500 to 10,000 feet elevation in shrubby areas and thorn forests. These birds can also often be found in the Southwestern portion of the United States on their migratory path to Mexico although only for a short period of time while passing through.

Allen’s Hummingbird

Identifying Allen's Hummingbirds:

Allen's hummingbirds are rust orange and green all over. Adult males have a rust colored tail, eye patch and belly with a deep red-orange throat. Immature males and females have similar coloring with only small spots of iridescent bronze on their throats.

male allens hummingbird female allens hummingbird

Left: male. Right: female.

Where Allen's Hummingbirds Live:

When the earliest signs of spring begin to show, as early as January, Allen's hummingbirds make their appearance in their breeding grounds along the western coast of California and Oregon. Males can be found in open areas of coastal scrub where they can be seen perched conspicuously keeping a close watch on their territory. The females visit these areas to find a mate but will retreat into the forest or thickets to build her nest and raise the young. There are two subspecies of Allen's hummingbirds; one which stays in California year-round and a second which migrates to Mexico during the winter months. These two subspecies are not distinguishable in the field. 

Difference between Rufous and Allen’s Hummingbird

Both Allen's hummingbirds and Rufous hummingbirds share many of the same physical characteristics and can be extremely hard to distinguish in the field, even by experienced birders. The only true way to decipher between these species is by subtle differences in the shape of their tail feathers. In the Allen's hummingbirds, all tail feathers are narrower than their Rufous counterpart. The Rufous hummingbird has a subtle but distinct notch at the top of the R2 feather (second from center).

What hummingbirds eat

Hummingbirds feed on nectar from tubular flowers and insects which they catch during flight or may even pull from spider webs or plants. Hummingbirds will also readily consume artificial nectar from hummingbird feeders. Nectar can be made using a ratio of 1 cup white sugar to 4 cups water. The use of dye or food coloring in artificial nectar is not necessary for attracting hummingbirds to a feeder and is not recommended due to the sensitive nature of these tiny birds.

How hummingbirds nest

Most nests are typically located between 6 to 12 feet above the ground on an exposed horizontal branch well below the canopy. Roughly the size of a large thimble (1 inch deep and 2 inches wide), the female builds the nest out of soft down held together with strands of spider silk and cocoon fibers. Nests in cooler areas will typically have thicker walls than those found in warmer climates.

A clutch size is typically 2 eggs that are roughly 0.3 inches wide and 0.5 inches in length. The tiny eggs are white and weigh less than half a gram. Eggs hatch in 12 to 16 days and will fledge the nest after an additional 21 days. Hummingbirds can have between 1 to 3 broods per season depending on the weather and breeding location.

How to attract hummingbirds

Placing feeders near flower beds or planters may help attract more hummingbirds to your feeder. For the best chance of hummingbirds discovering your feeder, it is recommended to have it up and ready before they return from their winter migration. Be sure to research the migratory pattern of hummingbirds in your area to make sure you haven’t put your feeder out too late, since this can cause them to overlook it later in the season. Feeders with built in perches can help these tiny birds conserve energy and feel more comfortable feeding, prolonging feeding times and increasing hummingbird viewing.

Try these hummingbird feeders:

 

 

 

Read more →

10 plants that attract hummingbirds

10 plants that attract hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are one of the backyard birder’s most coveted visitors! With their brilliant plumage and dazzling flight patterns, it’s no wonder that we try our hardest to attract more hummingbirds to our yards every year. Besides putting up a hummingbird feeder and using homemade nectar, another way to appeal to hummingbirds is to plant their favorite flowers in a garden, hanging basket, or container around your home.

Two important notes: 1) If you’ll be planting native perennials or annuals, be sure to check your hardiness zone! Native plants are great for your garden because they attract native insects, don’t need artificial fertilizers or pesticides, and are preferred by birds and other wildlife. 2) If you plant seed-bearing plants, don’t prune them back at the end of the season to attract even more wild birds. Non-migratory birds love to eat the seeds from the spent flowers, especially in the wintertime when other food sources are scarce.

Try filling your garden with a few of these beautiful blooms to bring more hummingbirds to your home this season!

 

  1. Bee balm

bee balm

Bee balm is one of the hummingbirds’ favorite flowers! This tubular perennial is easy to care for and gives off a fresh minty aroma. Blooms occur in mid-summer, and you can stimulate a second flowering by deadheading the flower buds immediately after they’ve finished blooming to give the hummingbirds some extra nectar as they prepare for fall migration.

Plant type

Perennial

Hardiness zones

4-9

Sun exposure

Full, partial

Bloom time

Summer

 

  1. Columbine

columbine

Columbine is the perfect plant to attract the first hummingbirds of season! Its nectar-filled spurs attract a variety of pollinators and coincides with the return of migratory hummingbirds around May. If columbine is on your list, make sure you plant it early to take full advantage of its spring blooms!

Plant type

Perennial

Hardiness zones

3-8

Sun exposure

Full, partial

Bloom time

Spring to summer

 

  1. Petunia

petunia

Petunias produce a sugary nectar that hummingbirds love. Their vast color variety makes them an attractive choice to add color to your garden, hanging baskets, or containers. Place them near your hummingbird feeder for best chance of hummingbird sightings!

Plant type

Annual

Hardiness zones

10-11

Sun exposure

Full

Bloom time

Spring to fall

 

  1. Zinnia

zinnias with hummingbird

Zinnias are a great choice for adding colorful blooms to your summer garden and are well-loved by hummingbirds. As a bonus, each zinnia head is packed with seeds which are a favorite of finches!

Plant type

Annual

Hardiness zones

2-8

Sun exposure

Full

Bloom time

Spring to fall

 

  1. Butterfly bush

butterfly bush

The flowers from the butterfly bush not only attract butterflies but are especially attractive to hummingbirds because of their high nectar count. These hardy bushes come in a variety of colors that are sure to bring bright blooms and hummingbirds to your garden. Look for the gorgeous tri-color variant for even more bursts of color!

Plant type

Perennial

Hardiness zones

5-9

Sun exposure

Full

Bloom time

Summer to fall

 

  1. Salvia

red salvia

This drought-loving perennial is the perfect choice for warmer, dry climates. Hummingbirds love the tubular shape of its flowers and the sweet nectar insides. If you reside in a cooler climate, you can still plant salvia as an annual in the summertime after the first frost, or choose a variety that works well for your hardiness zone.

Plant type

Perennial

Hardiness zones

10-11

Sun exposure

Full, partial

Bloom time

Summer to fall

 

  1. Penstemon (Beardtongue)

penstemon beardtongue

Penstemon, or desert beardtongue, thrives in hot, sunny, dry climates. This springtime bloomer brings much-needed nectar to hummingbirds early in the season as they migrate north. Ranging in color from pinks and reds to purples, hummingbirds love the tubular shape of the flowers, making penstemon a great addition to a drought tolerant garden.

Plant type

Perennial

Hardiness zones

3-8

Sun exposure

Full

Bloom time

Spring to summer

 

  1. Hummingbird mint (Agastache)

hummingbird mint

What’s not to love about hummingbird mint? As the name suggests, hummingbirds are attracted to the brightly colored flowers, high nectar count, and tubular flower shape of the hummingbird mint plant. An added bonus: this hardy perennial detracts unwanted garden pests like rabbits and deer!

Plant type

Perennial

Hardiness zones

3-10

Sun exposure

Full

Bloom time

Summer

 

  1. Delphinium (larkspur)

delphinium larkspur

Delphinium is a versatile plant that can be used as an annual or perennial in containers and gardens. Its tall blooms both attract hummingbirds and detract deer, rabbits, and groundhogs, making it a great option for gardeners with an eye on pests. Typically available in purple, blue, or white, delphinium also comes in a dwarf variety that requires less maintenance.

Plant type

Perennial

Hardiness zones

3-7

Sun exposure

Full

Bloom time

Summer to fall

 

  1. Trumpet honeysuckle

trumpet honeysuckle

Trumpet honeysuckle is an attractive vine that is favored by hummingbirds due to its bright and tubular-shaped flowers. Be aware that this vine has a tendency to spread quickly, so regular pruning is required to keep it in the location you desire. This showy perennial is best grown in dry, arid climates where it’s less likely to spread.

Plant type

Perennial

Hardiness zones

4-11

Sun exposure

Full, partial

Bloom time

Spring to summer

 

 

These 10 plants provide a good basis for a hummingbird and pollinator garden. To find more plant options that are native to your area, you can search Audubon's native plants database or take a look at the Pollinator Partnership planting guides. And check out these 12 plants to attract even more wild birds to your yard!

Read more →

Bird Feature: Allen's Hummingbird

Bird Feature: Allen's Hummingbird

Identifying Allen's Hummingbirds:

Allen's hummingbirds are rust orange and green all over. Adult males have a rust colored tail, eye patch and belly with a deep red-orange throat. Immature males and females have similar coloring with only small spots of iridescent bronze on their throats.

male allens hummingbird female allens hummingbird

Left: male. Right: female.

Similar Species:

Both Allen's hummingbirds and Rufous hummingbirds share many of the same physical characteristics and can be extremely hard to distinguish in the field, even by experienced birders. The only true way to decipher between these species is by subtle differences in the shape of their tail feathers. In the Allen's hummingbirds, all tail feathers are narrower than their Rufous counterpart. The Rufous hummingbird has a subtle but distinct notch at the top of the R2 feather (second from center). 

Where Allen's Hummingbirds Live:

When the earliest signs of spring begin to show, as early as January, Allen's hummingbirds make their appearance in their breeding grounds along the western coast of California and Oregon. Males can be found in open areas of coastal scrub where they can be seen perched conspicuously keeping a close watch on their territory. The females visit these areas to find a mate but will retreat into the forest or thickets to build her nest and raise the young. There are two subspecies of Allen's hummingbirds; one which stays in California year-round and a second which migrates to Mexico during the winter months. These two subspecies are not distinguishable in the field. 

What Hummingbirds Eat:

Allen's hummingbirds feed on nectar from tubular flowers and insects which they catch during flight or may even pull from spider webs or plants. Hummingbirds will also readily consume artificial nectar from hummingbird feeders. Nectar can be made using a ratio of 1 cup white sugar to 4 cups water. The use of dye or food coloring in artificial nectar is not necessary for attracting hummingbirds to a feeder and is not recommended due to the sensitive nature of these tiny birds.

How to Attract Allen's Hummingbirds to Your Feeder:

Placing feeders near flower beds or planters may help attract more
hummingbirds to your feeder. For the best chance of hummingbirds discovering your feeder, it is recommended to have it up and ready before they return from their winter migration. Be sure to research the migratory pattern of hummingbirds in your area to make sure you haven’t put your feeder out too late, since this can cause them to overlook it later in the season. Feeders with built in perches can help these tiny birds conserve energy and feel more comfortable feeding, prolonging feeding times and increasing hummingbird viewing. 

allens hummingbird at hummingbird feeder

Nesting:

Constructed from plant down from willows and plants in the sunflower family and held together using spiderweb strands, female Allen's hummingbirds build their nests anywhere from 2 to 50 feet off the ground. Nests are usually located on a branch near shady streams. Small strands of grass are woven together to form an outer layer which is camouflaged with pieces of lichen and moss. 

A clutch size is typically 2-3 eggs that are roughly 0.3 inches wide and 0.5 inches in length. The tiny eggs are white and weigh less than half a gram. Eggs hatch in 17 to 22 days and will fledge the nest after an additional 22 to 25 days. There can be 1 to 3 broods per year depending on weather and location.

Related Articles:

Are you ready for hummingbird season?

Common hummingbird feeders and solutions

Homemade hummingbird nectar recipe

Read more →

Bird Feature: Black-chinned Hummingbird

Bird Feature: Black-chinned Hummingbird

Identifying Black-chinned Hummingbirds:

These quick little birds are a dull metallic green on the back of the head down to the tail. While both male and female have a grey-white underside, only the males have a very distinct black patch on their throat. The shape and size of the patch can vary from bird to bird, with a thin iridescent purple strip at the base, sometimes unnoticeable until catching the light.

male black chinned hummingbird female black chinned hummingbird

Left: male . Right: female. [Photo credits to: Joan Gellatly | Flickr & ©Marky Mutchler | Macaulay Library]

Where Black-chinned Hummingbirds Live:

These hummingbirds inhabit the Western United States during breeding season. They can be found in Texas, New Mexico, parts of Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana and West to the Pacific Coast. They have even been found to travel as far North as the southern part of British Columbia. After the breeding season, some adults will first move to higher altitude mountain habitats where flowers are still abundant because making the long migration south to winter in western Mexico.

What Hummingbirds Eat:

Black-chinned hummingbirds feed on nectar from tubular flowers and insects which they catch during flight or may even pull from spider webs or plants. Hummingbirds will also readily consume artificial nectar from hummingbird feeders. Nectar can be made using a ratio of 1 cup white sugar to 4 cups water. The use of dye or food coloring in artificial nectar is not necessary for attracting hummingbirds to a feeder and is not recommended due to the sensitive nature of these tiny birds.

How to Attract Black-chinned Hummingbirds to Your Feeder:

Placing feeders near flower beds or planters may help attract more
hummingbirds to your feeder. For the best chance of hummingbirds discovering your feeder, it is recommended to have it up and ready before they return from their winter migration. Be sure to research the migratory pattern of hummingbirds in your area to make sure you haven’t put your feeder out too late, since this can cause them to overlook it later in the season. Feeders with built in perches can help these tiny birds conserve energy and feel more comfortable feeding, prolonging feeding times and increasing hummingbird viewing.

black chinned hummingbird at hummingbird feeder

Product shown: Mason Jar Hummingbird Feeder (Model# MJF1)

Nesting:

Most nests are typically located between 6 to 12 feet above the ground on an exposed horizontal branch well below the canopy. Roughly the size of a large thimble (1 inch deep and 2 inches wide), the female builds the nest out of soft down held together with strands of spider silk and cocoon fibers. Nests in cooler areas will typically have thicker walls than those found in warmer climates.

A clutch size is typically 2 eggs that are roughly 0.3 inches wide and 0.5 inches in length. The tiny eggs are white and weigh less than half a gram. Eggs hatch in 12 to 16 days and will fledge the nest after an additional 21 days. Black-chinned hummingbirds can have between 1 to 3 broods per season depending on the weather and breeding location.

Related Articles:

Are you ready for hummingbird season?

Common hummingbird feeders and solutions

Homemade hummingbird nectar recipe

Read more →

Bird Feature: Anna's Hummingbird

Bird Feature: Anna's Hummingbird

Identifying Anna's Hummingbirds:

At just under 4 inches in length, Anna's hummingbirds are small in comparison to other birds but in the hummingbird realm they are medium-sized and somewhat stocky. Mostly pale gray on the underside with an iridescent emerald green back, tail, and wings (sometimes also extended around the abdomen), the Anna's hummingbird is distinguishable from the Rufous hummingbird because it lacks any orange or rust-colored markings. While sometimes appearing a dull brown without direct sunlight, the male's face and throat are covered with brilliantly colored fuchsia feathers.

annas hummingbird annas hummingbirds at hummingbird feeder

Left: male. Right: females.

Where Anna's Hummingbirds Live:

These dazzling jewels can be found year-round along the western coast of the US and into Arizona. Occasionally Anna's hummingbirds can be seen in parts of New Mexico in winter months and in rare occasions they can be sighted north along the very coastal western strip of Canada.

What Hummingbirds Eat:

Anna's hummingbirds feed on nectar from tubular flowers, insects which they catch during flight or may even pull from spider webs, and sometimes tree sap. Hummingbirds will also readily consume artificial nectar from hummingbird feeders. Nectar can be made using a ratio of 1 cup white sugar to 4 cups water. The use of dye or food coloring in artificial nectar is not necessary for attracting hummingbirds to a feeder and is not recommended due to the sensitive nature of these tiny birds.

How to Attract Anna's Hummingbirds to Your Feeder:

Placing feeders near flower beds or planters may help attract more
hummingbirds to your feeder. For the best chance of hummingbirds discovering your feeder, it is recommended to have it up and ready before they return from their winter migration. Be sure to research the migratory pattern of hummingbirds in your area to make sure you haven’t put your feeder out too late, since this can cause them to overlook it later in the season. Feeders with built in perches can help these tiny birds conserve energy and feel more comfortable feeding, prolonging feeding times and increasing hummingbird viewing.

anna's hummingbirds feeding from the Nature's Way Vintage Blossom Decorative Glass Hummingbird Feeder

Product shown: Vintage Blossom Decorative Glass Hummingbird Feeder (Model# DGHF3)

Nesting:

Nests are typically built on a horizontal branch of a tree or shrub between 6-20 feet off the ground close to a nectar source. Roughly the size of a large thimble (1 inch deep and 1.5 inches wide), the female constructs the nest over the course of roughly a week using plant down held together with strands of spider silk and camouflages the exterior of the nest with lichen or moss. 

A typical clutch contains 2 eggs that are roughly 0.3 inches wide and 0.5 inches in length. The tiny eggs are white and weigh less than half a gram. Eggs hatch in about 16 days and will fledge the nest after an additional 20 days. Anna's hummingbirds will typically have 2-3 broods per year.

Related Articles:

Are you ready for hummingbird season?

Common hummingbird feeders and solutions

Homemade hummingbird nectar recipe

Read more →

Bird Feature: Rufous Hummingbird

Bird Feature: Rufous Hummingbird

Identifying Rufous Hummingbirds:

These small hummingbirds are roughly 2.8-3.5 inches in length and have fairly straight bills and short wings that don't reach the end of the tapered tail when perched. Male Rufous hummingbirds are fiery orange in good light with a bright iridescent red throat. Females are green on their backs with rust colored feathers on their flanks, tail, and often a small patch of orange on the throat as well. Both male and female Rufous hummingbirds are aggressive and can typically be found performing aerial launches to chase off any other hummingbirds that appear, even in areas where they're spending only a short amount of time passing through for migration.

male rufous hummingbird female rufous hummingbird

Left: male. Right: female.

Similar Species:

Both Allen's hummingbirds and Rufous hummingbirds share many of the same physical characteristics and can be extremely hard to distinguish in the field, even by experienced birders. The only true way to decipher between these species is by subtle differences in the shape of their tail feathers. In the Allen's hummingbirds, all tail feathers are narrower than their Rufous counterpart. The Rufous hummingbird has a subtle but distinct notch at the top of the R2 feather (second from center). 

Where Rufous Hummingbirds Live:

During summer breeding season this particular species of hummingbird resides mainly in the Pacific Northwest into the Southwestern strip of Canada in open or shrubby areas of forest openings, yards, and parks, and can also sometimes be found in thickets, swamps, and meadows ranging from sea level to about 6,000 feet. When in their wintering grounds in Mexico, these hummingbirds are found between 7,500 to 10,000 feet elevation in shrubby areas and thorn forests. These birds can also often be found in the Southwestern portion of the United States on their migratory path to Mexico although only for a short period of time while passing through.

What Hummingbirds Eat:

Rufous hummingbirds feed on nectar from tubular flowers and insects which they catch during flight or may even pull from spider webs or plants. Hummingbirds will also readily consume artificial nectar from hummingbird feeders. Nectar can be made using a ratio of 1 cup white sugar to 4 cups water. The use of dye or food coloring in artificial nectar is not necessary for attracting hummingbirds to a feeder and is not recommended due to the sensitive nature of these tiny birds.

How to Attract Rufous  Hummingbirds to Your Feeder:

Placing feeders near flower beds or planters may help attract more
hummingbirds to your feeder. For the best chance of hummingbirds discovering your feeder, it is recommended to have it up and ready before they return from their winter migration. Be sure to research the migratory pattern of hummingbirds in your area to make sure you haven’t put your feeder out too late, since this can cause them to overlook it later in the season. Feeders with built in perches can help these tiny birds conserve energy and feel more comfortable feeding, prolonging feeding times and increasing hummingbird viewing. 

Nesting:

Wasting no time, female Rufous hummingbirds begin constructing their nests within 3 days of arriving at the breeding grounds. Nests are typically located in large deciduous or coniferous trees roughly 30 feet in the air. Roughly the size of a large thimble (1 inch deep and 2 inches wide), the female builds the nest out of soft down held together with strands of spider silk and sometimes pine resin and camouflages the exterior of the nest with lichen or moss. 

A typical clutch size is typically 2-3 eggs that are roughly 0.3 inches wide and 0.5 inches in length. The tiny eggs are white and weigh less than half a gram. Eggs hatch in 15 to 17 days and will fledge the nest after an additional 15 to 19 days.

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Bird Feature: Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Bird Feature: Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Identifying Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds:

Beating their wings on average 53 times per second, these quick little birds are a bright emerald green on the back of the head down to the tail. While both male and female have a grey-white underside, only the males have a very distinct ruby red patch on their throat. The shade of red and size of the patch can vary from bird to bird, with the feathers sometimes appearing very dark until catching the light.

male ruby throated hummingbird female ruby throated hummingbird
Left: male. Right: female.

Where Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds Live:

This particular species of hummingbird lives in forest edges, meadows, grasslands, open woodlands, and in gardens, parks, and backyards. During the summer months of breeding season these birds can be found across the Eastern half of the United States and the southern portion of Canada. This is the only species of hummingbird found in the Eastern United States. Despite their small stature, most of these little birds make the amazing trek all the way to southern Mexico for winter months, while a small number may remain in the southern most tip of Florida.

What Hummingbirds Eat:

Ruby-throated hummingbirds feed on nectar from tubular flowers, insects which they catch during flight or may even pull from spider webs, and sometimes tree sap. Hummingbirds will also readily consume artificial nectar from hummingbird feeders. Nectar can be made using a ratio of 1 cup white sugar to 4 cups water. The use of dye or food coloring in artificial nectar is not necessary for attracting hummingbirds to a feeder and is not recommended due to the sensitive nature of these tiny birds.

How to Attract Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds to Your Feeder:

Placing feeders near flower beds or planters may help attract more
hummingbirds to your feeder. For the best chance of hummingbirds discovering your feeder, it is recommended to have it up and ready before they return from their winter migration. Be sure to research the migratory pattern of hummingbirds in your area to make sure you haven’t put your feeder out too late, since this can cause them to overlook it later in the season. Feeders with built in perches can help these tiny birds conserve energy and feel more comfortable feeding, prolonging feeding times and increasing hummingbird viewing.

ruby throated hummingbirds at Nature's Way Illuminated Hummingbird Feeder

Nesting:

Nests are typically built on a slender branch between 10-40 feet off the ground but have also been found in more surprising locations such as wire, loops of chains, and extension cords. Roughly the size of a large thimble (1 inch deep and 2 inches wide), the female builds the nest out of thistle or dandelion down held together with strands of spider silk and sometimes pine resin and camouflages the exterior of the nest with lichen or moss. 

A typical clutch size can range from 1-3 eggs that are roughly 0.3 inches wide and 0.5 inches in length. The tiny eggs are white and weigh less than half a gram. Eggs hatch in roughly two weeks and will fledge the nest after an additional 18-22 days.

Related Articles:

Are you ready for hummingbird season?

Common hummingbird feeders and solutions

Homemade hummingbird nectar recipe

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Hummingbird Feeder Selector

Hummingbird Feeder Selector

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NATURE’S WAY BIRD PRODUCTS SUPPORTS FIGHT AGAINST CHILDHOOD CANCER WITH NEW HUMMINGBIRD FEEDER

NATURE’S WAY BIRD PRODUCTS SUPPORTS FIGHT AGAINST CHILDHOOD CANCER WITH NEW HUMMINGBIRD FEEDER

Advanced bird products company donates portion of proceeds to childhood cancer fundraising foundation to help cure childhood cancer

September 1, 2021 (CLEVELAND) – Having a child with cancer is one of the most painful and difficult situations a family can face. To support children and families affected by childhood cancer, Nature’s Way Bird Products is donating a portion of the proceeds from their new Hummingbird Lemonade Stand feeder to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a pediatric cancer non-profit organization.

Nature’s Way, a manufacturer of wild bird products, has revealed a new hummingbird feeder with bright lemonade-inspired patterns and colors. Along with its sweet design, this feeder features a built-in continuous perching ring, lifelike flower feeding ports and an ant moat cap. All feeder parts are removable for a complete cleaning, extending the life of the feeder and keeping the hummingbirds healthy.

“Our family at Nature’s Way is inspired by the courage of childhood cancer heroes,” said Cristin Smith, Director of Product Development and Marketing at Nature’s Way. “As a family-owned and operated small business personally affected by cancer, we felt it our duty to offer our support to others in similar situations. Through this simple gesture of creating the Hummingbird Lemonade Stand feeder and launching during National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we can provide another way to raise awareness for childhood cancer support. We hope our ongoing donation helps these children and their families during a really challenging time.”

The Hummingbird Lemonade Stand feeder will be available on natureswaybirds.com and at select retailers beginning 9/1/2021.

ABOUT NATURE’S WAY BIRD PRODUCTS

Established in 2011, Nature’s Way Bird Products engineers and manufactures advanced bird products with superior quality components and innovative designs. Through a dedicated and extensive network of local dealers and global retailers, Nature’s Way delivers a full line of products to enhance the backyard birding experience including bird feeders, birdhouses, bat houses, insect houses and more. Based in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, Nature’s Way is committed to bringing wildlife back to your yard in a sustainable, enriching, and enjoyable way – just like nature intended! For more information, visit natureswaybirds.com.

ABOUT ALEX’S LEMONADE STAND FOUNDATION

Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) emerged from the front yard lemonade stand of 4-year-old Alexandra “Alex” Scott, who was fighting cancer and wanted to raise money to find cures for all children with cancer. Her spirit and determination inspired others to support her cause, and when she passed away at the age of 8, she had raised $1 million. Since then, the Foundation bearing her name has evolved into a national fundraising movement. Today, ALSF is one of the leading funders of pediatric cancer research in the U.S. and Canada raising more than $200 million so far, funding over 1,000 research projects and providing programs to families affected by childhood cancer. For more information, visit AlexsLemonade.org.

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