The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is the most widely distributed of the world’s more than 300 species of hummingbirds. With such a wide number of species and variety, it is no wonder that hummingbird feeding is one of the most popular bird feeding activities in North America. Hummingbirds are indigenous to only the Western Hemisphere.
On average, female hummingbirds are about 15% to 25% larger than males. It is felt that the larger size makes the female better able to incubate eggs and brood the young, while the male’s smaller size facilitates his escaping or distracting predators or performing the ritual aerobatic courtship displays. Only adult males have the full red colouring that gives the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird its name.
Some of the characteristic of the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird are:
- Average Length – about 9 centimetres
- Average Weight – only about 1/8 ounce
- Body Temperature – 105 to 108 degrees Fahrenheit or about 40.5 to 42 degrees Celsius
- Wing Beats – 40 to 80 per second, with an average of about 52
- Flight Speed – 30 mph normal and 63 mph when in a dive
- Diet – nectar and small insects like gnats, flies and ants
- Life Span – Maximum 12 years, with an average of about 3 to 5 years
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is often found in woodland and meadows, but it has also adapted quite well to areas of human development. To attract hummingbirds the most important factors are: shelter, space and food. Therefore the hummingbird is often seen in suburban backyards with mature tress and shrubs, in wooded parks and around orchards.
Hummingbirds are extremely loyal to reliable feeding sites. A hummingbird that feeds in your backyard one year will return to feed the next year. If you have not been successful in attracting hummingbirds, there are a few things you can do that will help. Since the male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is very territorial it is important to put out many feeders. At The Urban Nature Store we have over 35 different styles of feeders, but no matter what kind of feeders you decide to use, it is important that you 1) keep the feeder clean and 2) keep the nectar fresh. Hummingbirds are very sensitive to fermented nectar and will stay clear of any nectar that has gone bad. At The Urban Nature Store we offer easy-to-dissolve sugar nectar, as well as ready-to-use and natural liquid concentrate nectar from Hibiscus flowers.
Some of the common Hummingbird questions we are asked are:
Q: How can I keep Bees and Wasps away from my feeder?
A: Use a flat-top style feeder where the nectar is not at the feeding port. Hummers can reach in to get the nectar, but bees and wasps cannot. One of the feeders we recommend for this is Dr. JB's Hummingbird Feeder - it is very popular and is very successful at attracting hummers. Another helpful tip is to hang a Waspinator near your feeders as it will scare wasps away and keep your entire backyard free of these nuisance pests. At Urban Nature Store we feature the Waspinator and many other safe and natural pest control products.
Q: How can I keep ants out of my feeder?
A: You can easily keep ants off your hummingbird feeder with a simple ant moat above your feeder. It is simply filled with water and since ants cannot swim your feeder stays clean and free of ants. At Urban Nature Store we feature Nectar Protectors for both hummingbird and oriole feeders.
Q: Where should I hang my hummingbird feeders?
A: Hummingbird feeders are genrally hung lower than other bird feeders. Best to hang humming bird feeders at about chest height, as hummingbirds are normally accustomed to feeding on flowers and shrubs at this height. The feeders should also be hung in areas where there is protection against excessive wind.
Q: Are hummingbirds attracted to the colour red?
A: Yes, red is a very effective colour for attracting humming birds. It is easily for the hummingbirds to spot the colour red from high up in the sky when they are searching for a food source. Insects, due to their visual spectrum, do not see red and are not as easily attracted to red feeders, thus eliminating competition for the hummers. One trick for attracting hummingbirds is to tie large red bows to some of your trees early in the spring. This acts as a very effective tool to attracting hummingbirds from a distance.