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Hummingbirds – Jewels of the Bird World

Hummingbirds comprise one of the most interesting groups of birds found anywhere in the world. Their high-speed antics and bright colors make them a favorite in everyone’s garden. Native American Indians thought they were magic. They are certainly magical.

Over 20 species of hummingbirds have been recorded in the United States. Most are found in the Western United States. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only species normally found in New York.

ruby-throated hummingbird

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird. The female has a mainly white throat.

U.S. hummers range in size from about 3 1/4 inches (Calliope Hummingbird) up to 5 1/4 inches (Magnificent Hummingbird). Most species are migratory, although at least one, the Anna’s hummingbird, is a permanent resident and does not migrate or migrates only short distances. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird, on the other hand, migrates 600 miles across the Gulf of Mexico twice a year.

Flower nectar is the main source of energy for hummingbirds, supplemented with protein from small insects. A garden filled with nectar-rich flowers is the best way to attract hummers. 

Hummingbirds can be very territorial and provide hours of interesting observations.

The best way to attract hummingbirds is to plant a hummingbird garden. Top plant choices are listed in the gardening section. Check with your local nursery for available plants.

Birding Quick Hits

Blue Jays do Johnny Appleseed one better.  After the retreat of the last ice age, oak trees spread back north faster than might have been expected.  There is speculation that Blue Jays helped the process by caching acorns underground, some of which grew into new trees.