Rufous Hummingbird

The Rufous hummingbird, belonging to family Trochilidae, is one of the smallest birds in the world. It is one of the seven species that belong to genus Selasphorus. They are known for their great flying skills. As estimated by Partners in Flight, their present worldwide breeding population is about 11 million.

Rufous hummingbird

Rufous hummingbird



Scientific classification of Rufous Hummingbird

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Family: Trochilidae

Genus: Selasphorus

Species: S. Rufus


Rufous Hummingbird Scientific Name

The scientific name for Rufous hummingbird is Selasphorus Rufus.

Rufous Hummingbird Physical Characteristics

Adult Rufous hummingbirds are 7.3 to 9.2 centimetres in length, and they weigh around 2.8 to 4.1 grams. Male’s pileum is bronzy-green in color; and the gorget region is bright orange or reddish. Their under part is white. The throat and the chin carry shiny metallic red color. Females have metallic bronzy-green upper parts and its pileum isa bit duller compared to males. Their throat, chin and breast is dull white. They have two sets of tiny vocal muscles in its trachea. They have a thin, long bill that is dark brown or dull black. They have dusky feet.


Physical description of Rufous hummingbird

Physical description of Rufous hummingbird


Rufous Hummingbird Habitat

During breeding months, they are found in forests, spruce-fir habitats and riparian shrub regions. During winter time, they migrate to high mountain meadows, seacoasts, foothill brush lands and lowland stream bottoms; and especially to those areas where flowers are present.

Habitat of Rufous hummingbird

Habitat of Rufous hummingbird


Geographical range of Rufous Hummingbird

They inhabit western and coastal parts of North America from the months of March to August. From October to February, they migrate to Mexico.


Geographical range of Rufous hummingbird

Geographical range of Rufous hummingbird

Behavior and Adaptation of Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous hummingbirds are not social creatures. The generally do not socialize with other individuals of its species. Males are known to fiercely defend its territory both for food and during mating. In the case of an intrusion, male chase and kick the intruder to drive away from its territory. Fights mostly take place in mid-air, in which grasping with wings and claws are common features. During their yearly migration, they travel more than 8000 kilometers. They take hold of a lot of oxygen when it flies. They use seven times more oxygen when hovering in the air. When resting, their heartbeat can be around 480 beats per minute, but it reaches around 1260 beats when enlivened or thrilled. Individuals clean themselves with the use of their claws and bill. They use oil from a gland located on its tail to waterproof their feathers. They bath in a shallow pool or a cupped leaf.

Rufous Hummingbird Reproduction

Male’s mating display include steep ‘U’ or vertical oval flight. Flying high up in the air and diving down steeply, along with producing popping sounds are also common. A single male may mate with more than one female in a single season. Nest is made by the female. It is usually made in lower part of the vines, shrubs, coniferous trees and it is usually not made higher than 15 feet from the ground. Nest is made with spider webs, grasses, moss and many soft plant materials. They often refurbish and use old nests. Female lay 2 eggs (rarely 1 or 3) following copulation. Incubation goes on for 15 to 18 days, and it is done by the female only. Female feed the nestlings by regurgitating little insects. The young ones take their first flight when they are 21 days old.


Reproduction of Rufous hummingbird

Reproduction of Rufous hummingbird


Rufous Hummingbird Diet

This little bird species feed on ants, tiny wasps, flies, small beetles as well as other small insects. They also consume flower nectar (which is their primary source for energy) from many flowering plants like black locust, scarlet sage, horsemint and honeysuckle among others. They have also been noted feeding on sap from tree holes. They eat around 1/2 to 3 times of its total body weight.

Life expectancy of Rufous Hummingbird

In the wild, their lifespan is around 8 years.


Rufous Hummingbird Vocalization

Males emit a high-pitched trill. Both male and female produce chip notes if they notice any intrusion in their territory.

Threats to Rufous Hummingbird

Intensified agriculture, climate change, and use of pesticides in farmlands are considered to be the main threats to its survival.

Rufous Hummingbird Predators

In the wild, their predators include tiny hawks, owls, weasels and merlins. At times, invertebrates, such as spiders, also feed on this little bird.

Conservation Status of Rufous Hummingbird

As per the North American Breeding Bird Survey, their population has decreased by around two percent each year between 1966 to 2014. In the year 2018, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species placed this species in the ‘Near Threatened’ category from ‘Least Concern’ category.

Rufous Hummingbird Video

Rufous Hummingbird Interesting Facts

  • They are known to have a great memory for location.
  • Their wing beat frequency is between 52 to 62 per second.
  • Rufous hummingbirds are not colonial breeders, but in the state of Washington, they reportedly have around twenty breeding nests few yards away from each other.
  • There are records of this species being caught by a large flycatcher and a frog.
  • Its longest known lifespan was of a female specimen. It was noted to have lived for 8 years and 11 months.
  • They feed on flower nectar at least sixty times a day. They feed on nectar at thirteen licks per second.

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