ALL THINGS HUMMINGBIRD: Ruby-throated Hummingbirds
Pat Pepper, SGG Volunteer Birder
The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are generally found in wooded areas.
- Nectar: Prefers red & orange flowers such as trumpet creeper, cardinal flower, honeysuckle, jewelweed, bee-balm, red buckeye, red zinnias and red morning glory. They also like sugar water in feeders and tree sap.
- Insects: Mosquitoes, gnats, fruit flies, small bees, spiders, small caterpillars, and aphids.
Male or Female? Males have a red throat and black chin.
Did You Know?
- The Ruby-throated Hummingbird beats its wings about 53 times a second.
- The extremely short legs of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird prevent it from walking or hopping. The best it can do is shuffle along a perch.
- Ruby-throated Hummingbirds prefer to feed on red or orange flowers (though it’s not necessary to color the sugar water you put in a hummingbird feeder).
- Males hang around only long enough to court and mate. They do not help the female raise the young.
- Incubation and fledging takes about a month.
- Males may began to migrate south early in August.
Bring Hummingbirds to your yard by making your own nectar. Here’s how:
- Boil one part table sugar with four parts of water. Cool before putting in feeder.
- There is no need to color the sugar water, but having a red or orange feeder will help.
- It is not necessary, but feeders with perches are greatly appreciated by hummingbirds.
Wondering which is better: Saucer or Inverted Feeder?
Pros and Cons
- Are easy to fill, clean and assemble
- Can be more easily mounted on poles or railings
But, they also
- Have a smaller capacity and must be refilled frequently
- May be less visible to visiting birds
- Are easier to check nectar levels
- Typically have a greater capacity
- Are more prone to leakage and attracting insects
- Can be more difficult to clean and fill
- Some feeders are dishwasher safe.
- If washing by hand, use hot tap water and bleach, soap, or vinegar.
- Scrub with a small bottle brush to remove sugary residue and any black mold spots.
- Fill cleaned feeder with just enough sugar water to last a day or two.
- In hot weather, the sugar water can turn cloudy quickly; this means it has fermented and must be discarded.
- Hanging the feeder in a shady spot can reduce fermentation.
Keeping Pests Away
- Ants, Bees, Wasps, and Bats also like sugar water, and feeders that drip will attract more insects.
Use Bee Guards! Insert bee guard into plastic flower on feeder.
Or, use an Ant Guard. The ant guard contains an insect repellent disc that will last throughout the summer. Hang it above your feeder.