Facts About the Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Identification, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Baby Hummingbird


The female Ruby-throated hummingbird is one of the world’s smallest birds, weighing only about 0.5 ounces. They live in temperate regions of the western hemisphere and are commonly seen in suburban areas near human habitation. The male Ruby-throated hummingbird typically weighs about 1.6 ounces, while the female is much smaller. They feed almost exclusively on nectar and pollen, and their long, vibrating wings produce the humming noise associated with the name.

Most hummingbirds are male. The females are mostly silent in nature and their coloring is usually brownish to blackish. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only one that’s bright orange and it’s the female. The males usually stay close to the females. They’re territorial and aggressive towards other hummingbirds. They like to nest in cavities on buildings and bridges.

Relative Size

The female ruby-throated hummingbird is larger than any other North American hummingbird species. She is the only hummingbird that mates for life and can live up to 25 years. Female ruby-throated hummingbirds are monogamous birds that nest only in their territory. Females usually lay two eggs and may build their own nest or may use the nest built by the male, but usually build a new nest every year. The female feeds the developing eggs by regurgitating food for her developing offspring

Feeding Behavior

the Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird


The feeding behavior of the female ruby-throated hummingbird has been studied extensively since it was first described in 1821. As young birds, females feed in pairs for several days and even longer than that if needed. This behavior has been observed during feeding bouts and it can be predicted that the male will soon appear and take over feeding duties. The male has been kept waiting for the female, sitting on a branch, or standing nearby and watching her feed. She usually stops feeding while he is nearby. He may wait several hours until he has gained her attention again. Then he approaches slowly and picks up food from the branch near her. Once she begins to feed again, he starts hovering around her.

When a female ruby-throated hummingbird finds food outside her territory, she will approach and feed at close range. Her feeding behavior is considered aggressive because she is taking food from another bird. When a male feeds, he keeps a certain distance from the female. He approaches slowly, with his head tilted downward and his body parallels to the ground, and then offers her a sugar water solution. If the female accepts his offer, she flies to a new location and repeats the same behavior.



The eggshell of the female ruby-throated hummingbird is porous. Water is drawn into the eggs by capillary action, and carbon dioxide is released. These birds usually lay three to four eggs per clutch. However, occasionally, they may lay only one or two eggs. Eggs of the ruby-throated hummingbird range in size from 1.2 to 1.5 inches (3 to 4 cm) in length and 0.3 to 0.4 inches (0.8 to 1.2 cm) in width. The eggshells of the female ruby-throated hummingbird are uniquely designed to protect her eggs from predators. The eggs of other hummingbirds are more fragile and the shells tend to be dull or brown. Hummingbirds lay two eggs at a time on an open perch of vegetation. Each egg is slightly larger than those of other birds and is covered with a thin, glossy, black shell. The eggs are incubated for 16 to 18 days, and after hatching, the female feeds the young chicks. The young birds fly within hours of hatching and begin to feed themselves. The male will join the family and help defend the nest. Both parents feed and nurture the offspring. The babies grow quickly and fledge (fly free).


the Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Many species of hummingbirds drink nectar from flowers in the morning, afternoon, evening, and night. The female ruby-throat, like all species of hummingbirds, visits more flowers throughout the day than other species. She usually visits flowers of the same plant species every time she returns to it and spends long periods of time feeding on certain types of plants. Her diet consists mostly of pollen, a sugary secretion from a flower, and nectar from plants such as red honeysuckle, milkweed, and thistle. The female ruby-throat usually eats nectar alone or together with other hummingbirds, but she occasionally eats pollen on its own. Nectar can only be drunk while it’s still fresh.


As they nest, the female hummingbirds use their long tongues to collect water from deep inside their partners’ throats to prepare their food for the nestlings. They also keep the babies cool by spreading their wings and allowing their air sacs to fan around their nest. As a result, their feathers are especially warm and fluffy.


The migration of ruby-throated hummingbirds is a very interesting phenomenon. In the springtime, some female hummingbirds begin migrating north from the southern U.S. and Mexican regions to spend the summer in Canada. When these female hummingbirds migrate north, they travel in a group. The group usually stays together until they are near their destination, and they may stay in the same area for a while. When they arrive, they find a place to spend the summer. They build their nests in tall trees in the forest. This is where they live all year long.

How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird

the Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

So, what’s next for the hummingbird? Well, if the last decade is any indicator, it’s that climate change will definitely affect the ruby-throated hummingbird. The species has been moving northward for the last 10 years or so, but with climate change, it’s expected to expand its range even further. The ruby-throated hummingbird may move to places like Florida, where temperatures can get up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer and into the mid-90s Fahrenheit in the winter.

How to Identify and Attract a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird?

By being more of what a hummingbird is looking for. Hummingbirds need to be near flowering plants in order to drink nectar and obtain food. To entice a hummingbird to visit your home, try placing a small feeder filled with water near a window or in a location where it’s easy to reach.

What is the Song of a female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird?

There’s a lot more to hummingbirds than just the sweet little song they sing. These small birds have a range of behaviors that can surprise us, like the ability to change color in under two seconds, the ability to juggle multiple objects in their beaks, and even the ability to fly backward to escape danger. But perhaps most surprising of all, hummingbirds are quite social animals. They can recognize other hummingbirds’ songs and often pair up. And they may even engage in mating dances together.


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