RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD

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Food Preferences 
 

Food Preferences of the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Ruby-Throated hummingbirds require a constant energy source (nectar) and protein source (insects) to fuel their bodies. To make up for their constant energy drain, these hummingbirds drink flower nectar, a sugary liquid that plants use to attract pollinators. In return for the nectar, these birds spread that plant’s pollen, thereby assisting the plant in its reproductive process.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Scientists say that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds beat their wings at least 53 times a second to stay aloft. That kind of work requires a lot of energy, which is why they love flower nectar. In fact, it’s been determined that a typical Ruby-throated Hummingbird needs 10 calories a day to survive. That may not sound like much, but that’s a massive amount of energy for a creature that weighs about the same as 2.5 paperclips!

Beyond nectar, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds also require a great deal of protein. They fulfill this dietary requirement by eating a variety of small insects and spiders. Their bug hunts usually include catching these creatures in midair, plucking them from spider webs or snapping up those that congregate near a food source, such as a sap well.

In the wild, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds prefer red or orange tubular flowers as a primary nectar source. Their favorite flowers include trumpet creepers, morning glory, bee-balm, red buckeye, honeysuckle and jewelweed.

Hummingbird feeder ports are often modeled after their favorite flowers. This helps the hummingbirds recognize and use the feeders. Ruby-throats will also sometimes eat tree sap when they can’t find a better nectar source.

More Ruby-throated Hummingbird Facts

Learn even more about the Ruby-throated Hummingbird in a Species Spotlight at our articles section. We also featured the Ruby-throated Hummingbird in our Top 15 list of photogenic feeder birds.

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