Author: NCWRC blogger/Friday, April 17, 2015/Categories: Blog, Conservation, Wildlife Watching
Those fast-flying, tiny jewels of the sky are back. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are now showing up at feeders around the state, having spent the long, cold winter in Mexico and Central America.
At one time, they could be found in North Carolina only in the spring through fall; however, with the rise of backyard feeders, many hummingbirds decide to stay throughout the winter, mainly along the coast.
The ruby-throated hummingbird is the only hummingbird species that nests in the eastern part of North America. These hummingbirds prefer to breed and nest in deciduous forests, mixed woodlands and sometimes pine forests, and can often be found nesting in wooded residential areas. They typically build small nests of lichens and spider webs that are small in comparison to other birds’ nests — approximately 1 to 2 inches high and 1½ inches wide. They build their nests on tree limbs that can range from 1 to 60 feet off the ground.
Anyone who has ever set up a feeder knows that while these birds may be tiny, they are warriors, with both males and females aggressively defending their territory — in particular feeders — by incessantly chasing intruders away. Sometimes, watching them defend a feeder makes you wonder where they find the time to actually feed!
Speaking of feeders, they, along with flower gardens, are the best ways to attract hummingbirds.
Below are a few good websites to visit for more detailed information on attracting ruby-throated hummingbirds to your backyard.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology – lots of information about ruby-throats in general, including identification tips, habitat requirements, sounds/calls, life history and more!
N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences – information on hummingbirds specific to North Carolina, including vagrant hummingbird species and the Museum Banding Project
N.C. State University Going Native with Urban Landscaping – information on attracting hummingbirds using native landscaping
Hummingbirds at Home – on this website, from our friends at Audubon, become a citizen scientist and help biologists learn more about hummingbirds by reporting on those you see, their feeding behavior, and more. Use the website or a free mobile app to report sightings and learn more about hummingbirds.
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