Thursday, January 6, 2011

Rufous Hummingbird

Male Rufous Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbirds are native to the west coast of North America, where they migrate between their northern breeding grounds and their winter homes down in Mexico. They are quite small, measuring only about 3in (8cm). Males are rufous colored all over, with the exception of a white patch on the throat. Females and juveniles have a greenish tint on their backs. Their diet consists of nectar, sometimes supplemented by insects.

Did you know that Rufous Hummingbirds have the longest migration route of any North American hummingbird? On top of that, if you measure migration in regards to body size, they have one of the longest in the world! Its migration from Alaska to Mexico is over 78,000,000 body lengths. In comparison, the Arctic Tern, whose migration is about three times longer, moves only about 51,000,000 body lengths.

Rufous Hummingbirds also have the distinction of being quite feisty. They are very territorial birds, and will fight for feeding and nesting spots just about anywhere they go, even against much larger Hummingbirds. It helps that they are particularly quick and agile, even for a Hummingbird. They beat their wings 52-62 times per second. During the breeding season, males will perform oval or J-shaped aerial dives in order to impress females.

Rufous Hummingbirds also have excellent memories, and have been know to return to feeder spots year to year, even if the feeder is no longer there.

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