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Ruby-throated Hummingbird and others

The hummingbird, or Trochilidae, family provides vital pollination services to thousands of plant species. Hummingbirds are considered nectarivorous, meaning they feed mostly on plant nectar, although they do eat insects as well. While hummingbirds feed, pollen from flowers stick to the bird's bill and is transferred to the pistils of other flowers. Because of the hummingbird's unique means of flight, it must consume almost twice its body weight in nectar daily and can visit up to 1,500 flowers per day.

There are over 300 different hummingbird species and hummingbirds are native only to the New World. Of theses, 68 are on the IUCN Red List due to degradation and loss of habitat. There are 16 breeding species of hummingbirds in the United States, although only the ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) breeds in the eastern United States.

Hummingbirds are small birds weighing less than 20 grams. They have long, slender beaks and large sternums. Their wings beat about 55 times per second during feeding and up to 200 beats per second during maneuvers and courtship displays.

Length: 3 inches (7.5 to 9 cm)
Weight: ~3.5 grams
Long, straight, thin bill
Considered a small hummingbird
Bright green back and crown
White underparts with greenish flanks
Adult male:
Iridescent scarlet gorget
Black face and chin
Entirely dark forked tail
White chin and throat with variable amounts of thin dark streaking
Dark, shallowly-forked tail with white tips on outer tail feathers

Feeders can be bought in many Department stores or Supermarkets like Walmart etc. Since hummingbirds are attracted to colors in the yellow - red spectrum the feeders are usually bright red. Buy one you like and fill the reservoir with a sugar-water solution: make a mixture that contains approx. 20-30% sugar (~1 part sugar / 4 parts water). You do NOT have to color the mixture, a clear sugar-water solution just works fine. Hang the feeder in your yard or even close to your window or in your balcony - hummingbirds are not shy and will eventually show up once they find out about the new 'restaurant'. Keep your feeder always clean and wash it once a week but do not use soap or other detergents. If you did, rinse the feeder very thoroughly.

Arizona is a perfect spot for bird-watching, especially hummingbirds
Arizona is a perfect spot for bird-watching, especially hummingbirds: buy a feeder and enjoy the small creatures.



Document Information
Source: National Biology Information Infrastructure, Biological Informatics Office of the U.S. Geological Survey; USGS; magazineUSA.com
Last modified: 20090212
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