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, and 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 common species in the Eastern United States.

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.

Most of the following images are of male hummingbirds. Females are usually duller. The gorget is usually reduced or absent in females.

All of the regularly occurring U.S. hummingbirds are shown below. Violet-crowned and White-eared Hummingbirds are rare in the United States.

The best way to attract hummingbirds is to plant a hummingbird garden. Top plant choices are listing in the gardening section, or you can check with your local nursery.

Click on an image to see a larger version. 

 

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