Pocket-Sized Pollinator

Found only in the Western Hemisphere with hundreds of different kinds in the American tropics and over a dozen varieties in the United States, the hummingbird is the smallest of all birds. One of the most common in the U.S. is the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, the only hummingbird to breed there. Despite it’s small size, some Ruby Throats are known to travel from Canada to as far away as Costa Rica.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds are named for a patch of feathers that reflects bright iridescent red in the light but turns dark in the shade, this coloration is only found on the males. While hovering near the brightly colored flowers they prefer to feed from (mostly orange and red in varieties) their wings beat up to 53 times a second and produce a steady humming sound.

As an important pollinator, hummingbirds prefer tubular flowers where they use their long, specialized bill to retrieve the nectar on which they feed. In addition to nectar, they also feed on tiny insects.

Like many birds, hummingbirds have good color vision and can actually see in the ultraviolet spectrum of light.

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