Hummingbirds are miraculous creatures. Their beautiful plumage, impressively long beaks, their hovering capabilities, their tiny size and their dynamic nature all combine to make them one of the most interesting types of bird in the world. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are one of the most common hummingbird species, and they are a familiar sight throughout much of North and Central America. They get their name from their distinctive red gorget or throat patch, but this feature is found only among the males. Female ruby-throated hummingbirds have gray or green throats instead. The red patch is used by the males to attract a viable mate. The red feathers are especially iridescent, appearing to darken or even change to black depending on the angle of the light. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are incredibly small, measuring in at just over 7cm, with a wingspan of up to 11cm. Their beaks can be over 2cm in length and are very narrow. Hummingbirds use their long, slender bills to feed on nectar deep within blossoming flowers, hovering in place as they do so. The nectar is rich in sugar and carbohydrates, giving them the instant energy they need to sustain their flying habits. Hummingbirds will also eat small insects—catching them mid-flight or even stealing them from the webs of spiders. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are aerial acrobats, capable of impressive maneuvers that no helicopter could ever replicate. These stunts are possible because the ruby-throated hummingbird has a wingbeat frequency of up to 200 times per second. These top speeds are reached during a special courtship dive bombing display carried out by the males. A male ruby-throated hummingbird will fly up and down in a sequence of loops above the females as she sits perched, watching. The male will also perform a shuttle display, flying back and forth and carrying out rapid changes of direction, flaring his tail feathers. While ruby-throated hummingbirds are quite common and under no threat of extinction, they are still fascinating animals with a range of interesting behaviours.
Keywords to learn
Nectarivore: an animal that feeds on the nectar of flowering plants
Iridescence: a phenomenon where something appears to change color under different lighting or from different angles
Hey Kids, my name is Ruby the Ruby-throated hummingbird and I am very happy to meet you. Learn more about me and my species @ www.kids.nationalgeographic.com
Key Yellow-Eyed Penguin Data
Lifespan:5 to 9 years.
Scientific Name:Archilochus colubris.
Mass:3.4g – 3.8g (0.12oz – 0.13oz).
Length:7.5 cm – 9cm (3in–3.5in).
Region found:North and Central America.
Population Status:Least concern.
Current population trend:Steady.
Sexual maturity:1 year.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are impressive birds known for their energetic behaviour and bright plumage. These hummingbirds also fill an important role in the American ecosystem, carrying pollen between flowers as they feed.
Now that you know more about the Ruby-throated hummingbird by learning the key data above, be sure also to check out the fun facts. When you are finished learning the facts, try answering the questions in the Q&A corner on the bottom right side of the page.
Download questions about the Ruby-throated hummingbird here: Ruby Throated Hummingbird (answers are on this page)
Teachers. For more in depth work sheets on hummingbirds. Click on Kidskonnect Worksheets
Ruby-throated hummingbird Fun Facts for Kids
- # 1. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the only hummingbird to breed in Eastern North America.
- # 2. Hummingbirds can fly in any direction, even backward.
- # 3. Hummingbird feeders are often red because ruby-throated hummingbirds tend to favor red or orange flowers.
- # 4. Some ruby-throated hummingbirds migrate along a non-stop flight across the Gulf of Mexico every year.
- # 5. House cats are the most common predator of hummingbirds.
- # 1. What do Ruby-throated hummingbirds eat?
- # 2. What is the lifespan of the Ruby-throated hummingbird?
- # 3. What is the wingspeed of the Ruby-throated hummingbird?
- # 4. What role does the Ruby-throated hummingbird play in the ecosystem?
- # 5. Which direction do Ruby-throated hummingbirds fly in?