A Lifestyle Guide From the Locals – Bluffton, South Carolina

The Jewel of the East: The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

The ruby-throated hummingbird, a dazzling flash of green and red, is a summer visitor to eastern North America. These tiny marvels are the only breeding hummers east of the Mississippi River, captivating backyards with their frenetic energy and iridescent beauty.

A Tiny Powerhouse

Don’t let their size fool you. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are marvels of avian engineering. Their wings beat an astounding 50 times per second, allowing them to hover in mid-air, zip between flowers, and even fly backwards. Their iridescent ruby throats (on the males) are dazzling displays of nature’s artistry, while their emerald green bodies shimmer in the sunlight.

Masters of the Meal

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are all about the sweet stuff. Their primary source of food is nectar, which they sip from tubular flowers like trumpet honeysuckle and bee balm. Their long, specialized beaks allow them to reach deep inside blossoms, and their rapid wingbeats create a low hum that’s become synonymous with these tiny birds. They also supplement their diet with small insects, which provides them with essential protein.

Summer Visitors, Long-Distance Travelers

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are migratory birds, spending their summers breeding in eastern North America and their winters in warmer climates like Central America and Mexico. Their journeys can be impressive, with some traveling up to 2,000 miles each way!

Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Yard

If you’d like to attract these little jewels to your backyard, there are a few things you can do. Planting flowers with tubular shapes and red or orange colors is a great start. You can also set up hummingbird feeders filled with a sugar-water solution (one part sugar to four parts water). Just be sure to keep the feeders clean and fresh!

A Species to Treasure

The ruby-throated hummingbird is a fascinating creature and a vital part of the eastern North American ecosystem. By providing them with food sources and habitat, we can help ensure that these tiny jewels continue to grace our gardens for generations to come.