By: Sarah Mantia
Many hummingbirds spend the winter in Central America or Mexico, and migrate north to their breeding grounds in the southern United States as early as February, and to areas further north later in the spring. They are typically first sighted in Ohio early to mid-April.
The ruby-throated hummingbird is among the smallest of birds, weighing less than an ounce. They are astounding flyers that can move forward and backward as well as hover in flight. They have been clocked flying up to 60 mph! The sound produced by their rapid wingbeats led to its name.
Adult male hummingbirds will have the identifiable ruby colored throat. However, their markings can look much darker dependent on lighting or if viewing from the side. In comparison, females and juvenile males both have a white throat. In mid-summer, it is difficult to distinguish a juvenile male from an adult female hummingbird due to the similarities in color.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds nest in trees. Their nest size is only 1”-2”, about the size of half a walnut shell. Nests are usually made of lichens and spider webs. You will typically find 2 eggs in each nest. If you are lucky enough to find one, keep an eye out for these small creatures to return to it each year!
Due to their rapid movement, hummingbirds rely heavily on nectar to keep up their energy. Often times, people hang feeders filled with homemade nectar to feed the hummingbirds. There are also quite a few native flowers that you can plant to attract these small birds. Some native perennials hummingbirds would love in your garden include Cardinal flower, Bee balm, Coral bells, Tickseed and Coneflowers. These are great options for all the other pollinators as well!
Would you like more resources on Ruby-throated hummingbirds? Check out these links below!
Interested in tracking Hummingbird migration? This interactive map allows you to track all sightings and even record your own!
Make your own Hummingbird feeder and food: