Rapid Ruby-throated Hummingbirds
Yesterday, I saw my first Ruby-throated Hummingbird of the season! It was a female, so it lacked the striking ruby-colored throat. Hummingbirds are speedy flyers and are one of the only birds that can truly hover. They have the fastest wingbeats, some reaching 90 per minute, and are the only birds to be able to fly backwards. This group includes the smallest bird in the world, the Bee Hummingbird, that can fit on a pencil eraser. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds migrate all the way down to Central America during the fall and spend the winter there. Many of these birds cross the Gulf of Mexico in only one flight. All the energy needed to accomplish these demanding flights are gained from the large amounts of nectar that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds eat from a wide variety of plants. I love watching these tiny birds feed at my bird feeders on my deck. Last summer, I saw two or three males that would all fight each other by chasing each other through the air quickly. The birds were most likely fighting to protect their territories. I hope to see even more of these birds this year, and I believe I am well on my way to acheiving that goal as this past sighting was the earliest I have seen them! I am now wondering if the female I saw yesterday was the same one last year because many birds hve exceptionally accurate memories that allow them to return to the same exact backyard!