Ruby-throated Hummingbird Archilochus colubris
Family: Trochilidae, Hummingbirds
Description: 3 1/2" (9 cm). Tiny. Needle-like bill. Metallic green above, white below; male has brilliant, iridescent red throat. Immature male lacks red throat. Female green above, with white throat and breast, buff sides, and white-tipped outer tail feathers.
Habitat: Suburban gardens, parks, and woodlands.
Nesting: 2 white eggs in a woven nest of plant down held together with spider silk and covered with lichens. Nest is saddled to the branch of a tree, usually in a forest clearing.
Range: The only hummingbird that breeds east of Mississippi River. Breeds from southern Canada to Gulf Coast. Winters mainly in tropics, rarely on Gulf Coast.
Voice: Mouse-like, twittering squeaks.
Discussion: These diminutive birds are particularly attracted to tubular red flowers such as salvia and trumpet creeper, as well as bee balm, petunia, jewelweed, and thistle. Hummers are also attracted to artificial feeders-red glass tubes filled with sweet liquid. With their remarkable powers of flight, they are the only birds that can fly backward as well as hover in one spot like insects. They are constantly in motion, perching on twigs or wires only briefly to rest and to survey their surroundings, or when they are at the nest. During courtship, the female sits quietly on a perch while the male displays in a pendulum dance, swinging in a wide arc and buzzing loudly with each dip.