BIRDS OF NEW ENGLAND AND EASTERN NEW YORK - HOFFMANN

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GOATSUCKERS, SWIFTS, HUMMINGBIRDS, ETC. : ORDER MACROCHIRES

HUMMINGBIRDS : FAMILY TROCHILIDÆ

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD. Trochilus [Archilochus] colubris
3.74 in.

Ad. ♂.— Chin black, rest of throat, when seen from in front, intense crimson changing to golden red, but from the side apparently without color; rest of lower parts dusky-whitish; upper parts bright green. Ad. ♀.— Throat whitish; otherwise as in male.

Nest, of plant-down, saddled on a limb, the outside covered with lichen. Eggs, two, white.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a rather common summer resident of New York and New England, arriving in May, and leaving in September. The neighborhood of flowers, particularly red flowers, attracts this insect-like bird; columbine, nasturtium, trumpet-vine, scarlet honeysuckle, monarda, and jewel-weed are particular favorites. Contrary to the general notion, the Hummingbird often perches either on a dead twig or on a telegraph wire; as it sits, the long needle-like bill appears out of all proportion to the size of the tiny creature. Hummingbirds are very fearless, and often will not hesitate to fly about a bunch of some favorite flower held in the hand; they are also very irritable, constantly pursuing each other with excited squeaking. The male often poises in mid-air, and then with a sudden downward rush executes an arc, rising to the same height, then swinging back to the former station. The female alone is said to attend to all the duties of nest-building and the care of the young, which she feeds by thrusting her bill far down into their throats.

There is only one species of Hummingbird in eastern North America, but the male alone has the ruby throat. Certain sphinx moths, poising before the flowers in the afternoon, are often mistaken for hummingbirds.


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