Habitat and Range

Rufous Hummingbirds live in open woodland areas with ample sources of nectar. This includes the following habitat types:

  • forest edge
  • backyards
  • parks
  • streamside thickets
  • swamps
  • meadows

Rufous Hummingbirds migrate up California in early spring, breed in the Pacific Northwest, migrate down the Rocky Mountain Region in mid-summer to early fall, and winter in Mexico.

Credit: eBird

Identification

Rufous Hummingbirds are difficult to track when flying due to their diminutive size and swift flying speed. They are most commonly spotted while hovering around flowers and feeders. Hearing a loud humming sound is often the first indication that a Rufous Hummingbird is in the vicinity. Rufous Hummingbirds are also characterized by their aggressive nature.

Rufous Hummingbird Colors:

  • Male: bright rusty orange back with a white chest, iridescent orange-green throat patch (called a gorget)
  • Female: greenish with splotches of faded orange on sides and tail, white chest, throat often features a spot of orange

Video Credit: Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Migration

Rufous Hummingbirds embody the term migratory, they winter in Mexico, spend the spring months moving up the Pacific coast (primarily California), breed in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, southern Alaska), and migrate south through the Rocky Mountain Region beginning in late June.

Each fall a small number of Rufous Hummingbird are found in the eastern US - most likely because they have strayed off their migratory course.

Source: eBird

Scientific Name and Family

Selasphorus rufus

Rufous Hummingbirds are members of the Trochilidae family, which encompasses all hummingbirds.

Diet

A Rufous Hummingbird's diet is composed of nectar, small insects, and spiders.

Rufous Hummingbirds get nectar from flowers and hummingbird feeders. They favor bright tubular-shaped flowers.

Sounds

Video Credit: American Bird Conservancy

Rufous Hummingbird communicate with squeaky-sounding chip calls.

The humming sound their wings make is also quite noticeable.

Behavior

Rufous Hummingbirds are small, feisty creatures known for attacking larger hummingbird species. They will aggressively pursue and defend flowers and hummingbird feeders.

Breeding

Male Rufous Hummingbirds arrive on spring breeding grounds before females to claim and establish territory. Once the females arrive, the male will begin his courtship display. Breeding usually occurs in May. The female raises the young without any help from the male.

Nesting Habits and Egg Color

Rufous Hummingbird in nest (photo credit: Jon Heale / USFWS)

Female Rufous Hummingbirds build their nest on top of a well-camouflaged tree or shrub branch. The nest measures 2" across and is 1" deep, it is composed of herbaceous matter, spider silk, and moss. Rufous Hummingbirds will reuse old nests.

Rufous Hummingbird eggs are white, about a half-inch long, and 0.3" wide. The clutch size (how many eggs the hummingbird lays) is usually 2.

Rufous Hummingbird eggs (Photo Credit: Joe Heale / USFWS)

Attracting Rufous Hummingbird

Flowers that attract Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird and Rocky Mountain Bee Plant (Photo Credit: Tom Koerner / USFWS)

Attracting Rufous Hummingbird with a hummingbird feeder

  • Step 1: Buy a hummingbird feeder
  • Step 2: Buy a hummingbird nectar solution or make your own

To make hummingbird nectar bring 1 part table sugar to 4 parts water to a boil. (ex. 1/4 cup table sugar with 1 cup water). Let cool. Deposit into a hummingbird feeder.

  • Step 3: Strategically place hummingbird feeder to avoid cat attacks and window collisions.

ÔÇŹ

Main Photo Credit: USFWS

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