Wild Fact #859 – The Original Snowbird – Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Photo credit © John C. Stroud

I have so many animals that I find intriguing that it always surprises me when I discover that I have yet to create a fact for them.  Today we are going to talk about one of my favourite bird species, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. I hope you have all had the pleasure of witnessing these majestic little birds but if not, don’t worry since you will learn all about them in the next few minutes.

The ruby-throated hummingbird is a small bird measuring between 7 to 9 cm (2.5 to 3.5″) long with a wing span of about 8 to 11 cm (3 to 4″).  They can be found throughout North America during the summer months and in Mexico and Central America during the winter.  That’s right, the ruby-throated hummingbird is just like your Grandma and Grandpa and head to warmer climates for the winter.  If you ask me these birds are smarter than I am!  Believe it or not some of the ruby-throated hummingbirds will make this trip to their winter homes in a non-stop flight across the Gulf of Mexico. In order to prepare for this extraordinarily long trip the hummingbird will double their size before their winter vacation.  So now they have an excuse to eat hamburgers and junk food throughout the summer.  I am telling you, these birds know how to live!

There is no way that I can have a Wild Fact about hummingbirds and not mention their unique flying ability.  I am sure we are all aware that hummingbirds move their wings at incredible rates of speed. In fact they beat their wings about 53 times per second.  I am having a hard time putting this speed into perspective but just understand that they are blazing fast. Not only are they fast but the ruby-throated hummingbird has no problems hovering in one spot, flying upside down or flying backwards!  The Snowbirds would be out of a job if we could organize a group of hummingbirds to entertain Canadians at Summertime festivals and sporting events.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Fast Fact: This hummingbird has extremely short legs so they are not able to walk or even hop very efficiently. It is a good thing they are such prolific fliers.

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