Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)

Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

As the heat of summer starts to really set in, it is time to put out the hummingbird feeders. I have seen several other varieties at our feeders over the years – black-chinned, broad-tailed, and lucifer.

The ruby-throated hummingbird is my favorite because they are so bold and curious. They will buzz past you and chirp at you while you are outside. They frequently tease my cat through the window, and watch anyone at the kitchen sink.

Hummingbirds get the energy they need to maintain their astonishing metabolism primarily from flower nectar and the sugar water they find at feeders (here’s the recipe). For protein and other nutrients, they also eat soft-bodied insects and spiders; I like Bob Sargent’s perspective: “Hummers need nectar to power the bug eating machine that they are.” Think of them as miniature flycatchers, and sugar is just the fuel for getting their real nourishment. You might try setting out some overripe fruit–banana peels are good–to attract flies for your hummers.


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