Birding: Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) are the only species of hummingbirds that nest east of the Mississippi River in North America.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a bird common in Metro Atlanta and Georgia. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are solitary and not known for being social. Indeed, these little birds tend to be aggressive toward other hummingbirds: Ruby-throated Hummingbrids defend their feeding territories by attacking and chasing other hummingbirds that enter.


In early spring they migrate from Mexico, some even fly from the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico across the Gulf of Mexico. This impressive non-stop flight is about 800 km (500 mi) over water.


Ruby-throated Hummingbirds feed mainly from nectar from flowers and flowering trees, but also from small insects and spiders. Despite less known, small arthropods are indeed an important source of protein, minerals, and vitamins in the diet of adult hummingbirds. Imagining that the hummingbird’s wing beats about 53 times a second, this energy is needed.

Color Preference:

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds prefer to feed on red or orange flowers as nectar sources, one reason why many hummingbird feeders are in red color. Crossvine is one of the native plants attracting hummingbirds in early spring. Hummingbirds can see into the ultraviolet spectrum, which humans cannot see.


Due to its extremely short legs of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird cannot walk nor hop. Therefore these hummingbirds nest on small branches with a nest smaller than a key. Despite their small size Ruby-throated Hummingbirds demand the largest breeding range of North American hummingbirds.