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Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Scientific classification
Many: see text

Hummingbirds (family Trochilidae) are small birds capable of hovering in mid-air due to the rapid flapping of its wings (up to 80 beats per second usually, but 200 beats per second during courtship).

They are named for the characteristic hum of this rapid wing motion, and are attracted to many flowering plants such as shrimp plants. Hummingbirds feed on the nectar of these plants. They are important pollinators, especially of deep throated flowers.

They are especially attracted to red flowers: hummingbirds can be attracted by feeders stocked with red sugar water. Many species will also take insects.

Male hummingbirds are usually brightly coloured, females duller. The males take no part in nesting. The nest is usually a neat cup in a tree. Two white eggs are laid, which are large compared to the bird. Incubation is typically 14-19 days.

The Bee Hummingbird, Mellisuga helenae, is, at 2.2 grams, the smallest bird in the world. this can be compared with the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Archilochus colubris, weight approximately 3 grams, length 7.6 cm (3 in).

Table of contents
1 Location
2 Taxonomy
3 In Artistic Depiction
4 Species
5 External Links


Hummingbirds are only found in the Americas. The Black-chinned Hummingbird is the commonest species in the western United States and Canada. Only the Ruby-throated Hummingbird breeds in eastern North America, but occasional members of other hummingbird species ("accidentals" in birding jargon) are seen in the east of North America, sometimes as vagrants from Cuba or the Bahamas.


Traditionally hummingbirds were placed in the order Apodiformes, which also contains the swifts. In the modern Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy, hummingbirds are separated as a new hummingbird order Trochiliformes.

In Artistic Depiction

The Aztec god Huitzilopochtli is often depicted as a hummingbird.


There are nearly 340 species of hummingbird.

Species list

External Links