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Ruby-throated Hummingbird Archilochus colubris


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Ruby-throated Hummingbird, male
credit: Steve Maslowski

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Trochilidae, Hummingbirds view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has metallic green upperparts. Throat usually appears black but iridescent ruby gorget is seen at certain angles of direct sunlight. Underparts are whitish, with grubby green feathering on belly. Note white spot behind eye. ADULT FEMALE Has green upperparts and mainly whitish underparts, with fine gray streaks on throat and gray-green feathers on flanks. Fanned tail has white feather tips and black subterminal band. JUVENILE Similar to adult female.

Dimensions Length: 3 1/2" (9 cm)

Habitat Widespread and fairly common summer visitor (mainly May-Aug) to eastern North America, favoring gardens and open woodland.

Observation Tips Easy to see in summer range and often visits feeders.

Range New England, Texas, Florida, Eastern Canada, Western Canada, Southeast, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Plains

Voice Call is a sharp chip.

Similar Species Black-chinned Hummingbird A. alexandri (L 3.5-4 in) male has a mostly black throat with a violet lower band seen in good light. Throat color is often hard to discern and separation of both sexes from Ruby-throated counterparts is often best achieved by noting Ruby's longer tail projection beyond wings and slightly tapering (not broad and blunt-ended) primary outline. A southwestern specialty, whose range extends to Texas; present mainly Apr-Aug. Buff-bellied Hummingbird Amazilia yucatanensis (L 4-4.25 in) is a mainly Mexican hummingbird with a toehold in southern Texas. Adult has a green head, neck, breast, and upper back, and a pale buff belly; lower back, rump, wings, and tail are reddish brown, and bill is long, downcurved, dark-tipped, and reddish. Juvenile is similar but duller. Breeds and occurs year-round in southern Texas in small numbers; most Texan birds migrate south in fall. Easiest to see at feeders.

Discussion Unmistakable within range because of its size, shape, and habits, and because it is the only hummingbird likely to be seen in eastern North America. Very similar to Black-chinned, its southwestern counterpart. Geographical range is best pointer for beginners. Needlelike bill is almost straight. Sexes are dissimilar.