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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Ruby-throated Hummingbird -- Archilochus colubris


RANGE: Breeds from central Alberta and central Saskatchewan to southern Quebec and New Brunswick south, east of the Rocky Mountains, to southern Texas, the Gulf Coast, and Florida. Winters from southern Texas south to Central America; also in southern Florida.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Occurs in a variety of wooded habitats, ranging from rather dense to open coniferous and deciduous woodlands, orchards, and shade trees in yards. Also inhabits mixed woodlands, parks, and gardens, often breeding in woodlands near streams or wooded swamps.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Plants that provide tubular nectar-bearing flowers such as honeysuckle, lantana, gilia, and trumpet vine, especially red flowers.

NEST: Places nest 6 to 50 feet, typically 10 to 20 feet, above the ground, on a fairly level or downward slanting twig or branch protected from above by larger branches or a leafy canopy. Often locates nest near or sometimes directly over water, or near a woodland trail. Uses a variety of trees for nesting, but appears to favor hardwoods over conifers, especially those with rough, lichen-covered bark. May use the same nest site year after year.

FOOD: Consumes nectar from flowers, especially red, orange, and pink ones. Also eats small insects, spiders, and tree sap.

REFERENCES: Beal and McAtee 1912, DeGraff et al. 1980, Forbush and May 1955, Johnsgard 1979, 1983b, Terres 1980.


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