Beak of the Week: Rufous Hummingbird

Happy National Bird Feeding Month!!


February is a special month—Not only do we get to honor those we love on Valentine’s Day and add a 366th day to this year (every four years), but we also get to celebrate an incredible hobby all month long!

Backyard bird feeding is an amazing activity that offers a seemingly limitless number of benefits, including relaxation, spending time with loved ones, and connecting with nature, to name a few. If you don’t have a feeder up yet, I hope learning about the Rufous Hummingbird will inspire you to do so!

What a beauty!
What a beauty!

Hummingbirds are some of the most colorful, marvelous birds on the planet, capable of unbelievable things. And, attracting them to your backyard is simple! Hang a hummingbird feeder in your garden or yard and fill it with hummingbird nectar. If you live west of the Rockies, don’t be surprised if you see this gorgeous, glowing Rufous-colored bird stop by…

“Have you ever observed a humming-bird moving about in an aerial dance among the flowers – a living prismatic gem…. it is a creature of such fairy-like loveliness as to mock all description.”  ~W.H. Hudson, Green Mansions

Common Name: Rufous Hummingbird

Latin Name: Selasphorus Rufus

Range:   Summers in western Canada and the northwestern United States (as far as Alaska). Winters in southern Mexico and rarely in the southeastern United States. Found in the western United States (from the Pacific Coast to the Rocky Mountains) during migration seasons.

Habitat: Typically found along edges of coniferous forests, areas of low shrubbery, and residential areas, such as backyards, parks, and gardens.

Diet: Insects and nectar.

Conservation Status: Least concern.

Five great facts about one very small bird…

If this bird doesn’t take your breath away, you should definitely check your pulse. In fact, check your pulse regardless. Seriously. Indulge me for a sec! If I had to guess, your resting heart rate would be around 72 beats per minute – give or take a few – right?  Now, imagine what it would feel like to experience your heart beating at a speed of 250 times per minute. Freaky! Did you know that when a Rufous Hummingbird flies, its resting rate of 250 can soar to a whopping 1,200 beats per minute?  Pretty crazy, huh? 
  • By size, the Rufous Hummingbird has one of the longest migration routes of any bird in the world.  According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “At just over 3 inches long, its roughly 3,900 mile movement (one-way) from Alaska to Mexico is equivalent to 78,470,000 body lengths.” In comparison, the 13-inch long Arctic Tern’s one-way flight of about 11,185 miles is only 51,430,000 lengths.
  • Rufous Hummingbirds flap their wings an average of 52-62 times per second. With a circularly rotating motion, hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly in all directions (forwards, backwards, and maneuver sideways).
  • This gutsy little bird is known for its aggressive behavior at feeders, often chasing away other hummingbirds of varying sizes.
  • The outside diameter of a Rufous Hummingbird’s nest is approximately two inches, with an inner diameter of approximately one inch. Imagine how small the nestlings are!
  • The Rufous Hummingbird has an exceptional memory, used to help re-locate familiar food sources.

Happy Bird Feeding!


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