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Ruby-throated Hummingbird Archilochus colubris


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credit: Steve Maslowski

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Migration Info Although this common and popular bird is found throughout the eastern states in the warmer months, the nature of its migration is poorly documented. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds spend the winter along the west coast of Mexico and through Central America to Costa Rica. They frequent tropical deciduous forests and lowland scrub and are common in the extensive citrus groves of Belize.

Spring migration involves several different routes: Some individuals travel north along the east coast of Mexico, while others migrate across the Gulf of Mexico, presumably departing from the Yucatan Peninsula. Large numbers have been observed flying low over wave tops off the coasts of Louisiana and Texas. Males appear along the U.S. Gulf coast in late February, 8 to 10 days ahead of the females. The timing of northward movements is variable and appears to depend on the blooming of favored nectar plants along the way. In the extreme north, the arrival of the hummingbirds may be timed to follow the migration of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. These woodpeckers open sap wells that may be crucial food sources for Ruby-throats in the absence of floral nectar.

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