You Can Find the Beautiful Ruby-Throated Hummingbird in Your Own Backyard
by Sofia Zapata, age 12
Have you seen any Ruby-throated Hummingbirds flying in your neighborhood recently? They are commonly seen in Wisconsin, but usually only during the warmer months. The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the only breeding hummingbird in eastern North America. In the bright sun, these beautiful, tiny, precision-flying birds sparkle like gems, then dart away to their next food source.
A Ruby-throated Hummingbird has fascinating attributes that make their tiny physical futures unique. Their wings flap up to 55 times a second at a relaxed pace. However, when a hummingbird increases their speed while moving forward, they flap 75 times a second. The wings of this hummingbird aren’t the only things that go at a fast pace. The tiny hearts of these birds beat 225 times per minute and can increase to 1,250 beats per minute. Compared to hummingbirds, the human heart averages from 60-100 bpm. This is to put the physical abilities of the ruby-throated hummingbirds into perspective.
Hummingbirds are the only birds that are able to fly backward. This species is one of the biggest aerial migrators. During their migration season, they travel across the Gulf of Mexico, and it takes them around 18 hours to fully cross. Once they arrive at a safe place, they create a nest that is the same size as a small walnut. A fun fact about the male hummingbird is that it weighs the same as a penny. Male hummingbirds begin to mate during spring by flying and chasing their mate. Afterward, when the nest is made in a tree, the females will begin to lay around two eggs.
These birds have incredible color vision that allows them to see into the ultraviolet color spectrum. This color spectrum cannot be seen by humans, but they are seen by hummingbirds meaning that violet is the highest frequencies of visible light for them.
The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are one of the most beautiful species in the bird kingdom. Many times they are not seen for too long since they enjoy the warm weather, but also because they die from starvation and lack of protection. However, with successful protection and survival skills, some can survive up to nine years. This is similar to the banded female hummingbird, which was recorded to be the oldest Ruby-throated bird to live.
Feeders and flower beds are excellent methods to attract this beautiful bird species. Many homeowners transform their yards into hummingbird attractions each summer to enjoy these blissful creatures. Next time, enjoy them while they're here because, by early autumn, they'll be on their way to Central America, with many crossing the Gulf of Mexico in one trip.
[Sources: allaboutbirds.org; Birds of Wisconsin; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]