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Humming Bird

Archilochus colubris (Linnaeus)


There are over 300 species of hummingbirds and the range of most of them is limited to tropical regions. The ruby-throat is the only one that normally comes to eastern Canada. All species of hummingbirds are confined to the New World, none occurring outside the Americas. The metabolism of hummingbirds is very rapid. They must eat often to keep their "engines" humming, and this they do during daylight hours. From "bedtime" to the break of day they must fast. In order to conserve their energy during this period of no food intake, they not only sleep but become torpid, their body organs barely functioning.


Breeds from Alberta east to Nova Scotia and south to the Gulf States and Florida. Winters from Florida and Louisiana south to Panama.Fairly common in summer in Nova Scotia, where this was spotted. Distributed throughout the province in urban and wild areas, generally arriving by mid-May (average 12 May, earliest normal date 1 May). Description Length: 7.5-9.5 cm. Adult male: Top of head and back bright glossy green; tail dark grayish brown and forked. Throat patch iridescent, showing coal-black at one moment and ruby-red the next; breast whitish, sides dark with greenish tinge. Bill long and needle-like. Adult female: Upperparts similar to male, but outer ends of her feathers are beautifully and broadly tipped with satiny white, and tail is not forked. Underparts whitish with no throat patch.


When a hummingbird hovers over a flower, it looks as if standing on air. This tiny species twice has been seen chasing larger birds, in one case a robin and in the other a nighthawk. On each occasion the pursuer, close on the tail of the larger bird, appeared to be flying along at leisurely speed while the pursued was exerting full wing power to free itself from its spiteful tormentor. As you can see in this picture the ant is a good reference to the size of this jewel-like, tiny bird.

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1 Comment

peter 7 years ago

Whenever possible, please make sure to include a reference link for Wikipedia of Encyclopedia of Life. This helps mark the spotting as identified.

Argyle Municipal District, Nova Scotia, Canada

Lat: 43.92, Long: -65.84

Spotted on Jun 21, 2008
Submitted on Feb 5, 2011

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