Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Ruby-throated hummingbird

Archilochus colubris

(Photo from Dream Birding)

Common name:
ruby-throated hummingbird (en); beija-flor-de-garganta-vermelha (pt); colibri à gorge rubis (fr); colibrí de garganta roja (es); rubinkehlkolibri (de)

Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae

This species breeds throughout the eastern United States and south-eastern Canada. They migrate south to winter in Central America from Mexico to Panama.

These birds are 7-9 cm long and have a wingspan of 8-11 cm. They weigh 3-4 g.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are mostly found breeding in open deciduous forests, but also in pine forests, along forest edges, in grasslands and in orchards and gardens. During winter they are found in deciduous tropical forests, in agricultural areas and along rivers and marshes. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 1.900 m.

They mostly eat the nectar of a wide variety of flowering plants, namely red buckeye Aesculus pavia, jewelweed Impatiens sp., columbine Aquilegia canadensis, trumpet creeper Campsis radicans, red morning-glory Ipomea coccinea, coral honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens, fly honeysuckle Lonicera canadensis, cardinal flower Lobelia cardinalis, catchfly Silene armeria and fire-pink Silene virginica. They also hunt small invertebrates such as mosquitos, gnats, fruit flies, small bees and spiders.

The ruby-throated hummingbird breeds in March-July. They are polygynous and the males have no further part in the breeding process after mating with the females. The female builds the nest, a small cup made of thistle or dandelion down held together with strands of spider silk and sometimes pine resin, and with some pieces of lichen and moss for camouflage. The nest is placed on top of a branch, 3-7 m above the ground. The female lays 1-3 white eggs, which she incubates alone for 10-14 days. The chicks are raised by the female and fledge 18-22 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 1 week later. Each female may raise 1-2 broods per season.

IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 7 million individuals. The population has undergone a large increase of 27% per decade over the last 4 decades.

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