The Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) is a small bird found in North America. Adults measure around 3.5 inches in length and weigh between 0.1 and 0.2 ounces. They have a unique rust-colored plumage, with the male having an iridescent orange-red throat and the female having a greenish-brown back and head. Their bills are long and thin, adapted for feeding on nectar from flowers.
One of the distinguishing field marks of Rufous Hummingbirds is their territorial behavior. Males will fiercely defend their feeding and nesting areas from other males and even larger birds. They are also known for their fast and agile flight, hovering in mid-air as they feed on nectar or catch insects. Their wings beat up to 80 times per second, creating a humming sound that gives them their name.
Rufous Hummingbirds are migratory birds, spending their breeding season in North America and wintering in Central America and Mexico. They have one of the longest migrations of any hummingbird species, with some individuals traveling up to 3,000 miles each way. They begin their migration in late summer or early fall, traveling along the Pacific coast and through mountain ranges to reach their wintering grounds.
During the breeding season, Rufous Hummingbirds are found in a variety of habitats, including mountain meadows, forests, and coastal regions. They typically build their nests in trees or shrubs, using spider silk and plant fibers to create a small cup-shaped structure. Females lay one to three eggs, which hatch after about two weeks. The young birds fledge after about three weeks and become independent after another week or two.
Rufous Hummingbirds are an important pollinator of many flowering plants and play a vital role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. However, their populations are declining due to habitat loss, climate change, and competition with other hummingbird species. Conservation efforts such as protecting breeding and wintering habitats, reducing pesticide use, and creating gardens with native plants can help ensure the survival of this beautiful and fascinating bird.