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Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Archilochus colubris

Photo:Mont St-Hilaire Nature Center
Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Photo:Mont St-Hilaire Nature Center

Although Central and South America are home to hundreds of species of hummingbirds, only one species, the ruby-throated, nests in Canada. This is one of the smallest birds species in Canada, weighing only 3 grams. Their unusually small size causes them to require relatively large amounts of high-energy food. Nectar from flowers provides an ideal food source: the problem is that the suitable plants don't flower until July. Consequently, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird consumes tree sap during early summer. This food source would not be available were it not for a species of woodpecker, the yellow-bellied sapsucker, whose endless hole-drilling releases the tree sap required by the ruby-throated hummingbird. In fact, the geographic range of the ruby-throated hummingbird in eastern Canada is probably dependent upon where the yellow-bellied sapsucker is found. Although it's hard to imagine, the tiny ruby-throated hummingbird makes an annual migration to its wintering grounds in Mexico and Central America. What's even more impressive is that this bird must make a 700 km, non-stop flight across the Gulf of Mexico! To make it across, this bird stores up to its own weight in fat reserves.

Map of Ruby-throated Hummingbird in Canada
Distribution of Ruby-throated Hummingbird in Canada

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