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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.
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
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