The Ruby-throated Hummingbird attains an overall length of about 3.5 inches. To identify the female bird look for a long needle-like bill; metallic green above with a dingy white throat. The male has a metallic red throat. The preferred habitat is deciduous and mixed forests, rural, suburban, and city gardens.
Of the 15 species of hummingbird that regularly nest north of Mexico, this is the only one breeding east of the Great Plains. The Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus) of western mountains is similar in appearance, but the ranges of the two do not overlap. "Hummers," unlike other birds, can fly backwards or straight up and down. They can also hover, and are able to drink flower nectar without actually landing on the blossom. The flowers they drink from are usually long, tubular, and orange or red.
Photo courtesy Pete Williams, Gulf Breeze, Florida
Copyright (c) 2006 Pete Williams