Beak of the Week – Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)

Family: Trochilidae

Did you know that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are able to fly in all 6 directions with wing beats of 53 times per a second? Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are bright emerald or golden-green on the back and crown with gray-white underparts. Males have a brilliant iridescent red throat while females and immatures have fine, dark throat streaking.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds feed on the nectar of red or orange tubular flowers as well as at hummingbird feeders and sometimes tree sap. Hummingbirds also catch insects in midair or pull them out of spider webs. In preparation for their migration, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds double their weight from 3 grams to over 6 grams prior to departing.

In the fall, millions of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will pass through Texas on their migration to points south of the border with many crossing the Gulf of Mexico in a single flight. They arrive from breeding grounds as far away as Nova Scotia.

Greg Lavaty
Greg Lavaty
Anthony Rathbun

Our Beak of the Week is one of 12 birds featured in Confluence, a public art installation along the Bayou Greenway trail at the confluence of White Oak and Buffalo Bayous. The 223-foot mural, created by artist Jane Kim, founder of Ink Dwell Studio, showcases the birds that call Houston’s bayous home. Confluence is commissioned by Houston Parks Board and hosted in collaboration with Buffalo Bayou Partnership. Houston Audubon is pleased to provide ornithological expertise and collaborate on programming and promotion of the mural. Learn more about Confluence here. 

 Visit our Bird Gallery to read about other Texas birds! 

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