Archilochus colubris - (Linnaeus, 1758)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Other English Common Names: ruby-throated hummingbird
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Archilochus colubris (Linnaeus, 1758) (TSN 178032)
French Common Names: colibri à gorge rubis
Spanish Common Names: Colibrí Garganta Rubí
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.105069
Element Code: ABNUC45010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Other Birds
Image 11142

© Jeff Nadler

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Apodiformes Trochilidae Archilochus
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Archilochus colubris
Taxonomic Comments: Appears to constitute a superspecies with A. alexandri (AOU 1998).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 06Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 02Dec1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Large range in eastern North America (breeding) and Middle America (nonbreeding); uses natural and altered habitats; large population size; area of occupancy and abundance relatively stable or slowly increasing; no major threats.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5B (19Mar1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5B (13Feb2012)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (S5), Arkansas (S5B), Connecticut (S5B), Delaware (S5B), District of Columbia (S3B,S3N), Florida (SNRB,SNRN), Georgia (S5), Illinois (S4S5), Indiana (S4B), Iowa (S4B,S5N), Kansas (S4B), Kentucky (S5B), Louisiana (S5B), Maine (S5B), Maryland (S5B), Massachusetts (S5B), Michigan (S5), Minnesota (SNRB), Mississippi (S5B), Missouri (SNRB), Nebraska (S3), New Hampshire (S5B), New Jersey (S4B), New York (S5B), North Carolina (S5B), North Dakota (SNRB), Ohio (S5), Oklahoma (S5B), Pennsylvania (S5B), Rhode Island (S3B), South Carolina (SNRB), South Dakota (S2B), Tennessee (S5), Texas (S4B), Vermont (S5B), Virginia (S5), West Virginia (S5B), Wisconsin (S5B)
Canada Alberta (S5), British Columbia (S3B), Manitoba (S5B), New Brunswick (S5B), Newfoundland Island (S1B), Nova Scotia (S5B), Ontario (S5B), Prince Edward Island (S5B), Quebec (S5), Saskatchewan (S5B,S4M)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Protection Status (CITES): Appendix II

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Breeding range extends from northeastern British Columbia, northern and central Alberta, central Saskatchewan, southern Manitoba, central Ontario, southern Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland south, east of the Rocky Mountains, to southern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, extreme northeastern Montana, extreme north-central and northeastern North Dakota southward through the eastern Great Plains to eastern and extreme southern Texas, the Gulf coast, and central (rarely southern) Florida, and west to eastern South Dakota, extreme eastern Nebraska, south-central Kansas, central Oklahoma, and east-central and coastal Texas (AOU 1998, Weidensaul et al. 2013). Recently documented breeders in northern Alberta and northeastern British Columbia probably represent a previously overlooked population (D. Cubie, pers. comm., cited by Weidensaul et al. 2013).

Winter range encompasses the Pacific slope of Mexico from southern Sinaloa south, and the interior and Caribbean slope of Mexico from southern Veracruz, the Yucatan Peninsula, and Oaxaca, south through Middle America (including Cozumel and Holbox islands) to central Costa Rica (south of Nicaragua most commonly on the Pacific slope), casually to western Panama (Chiriqui and western Panamá province); also small numbers from southeastern Texas and southern Louisiana along Gulf Coast to northwestern Florida, and also in southern Florida; casual in western Cuba (AOU 1998).

These hummingbirds migrate through southern Texas and northeastern and north-central Mexico; they are regular in Cuba, especially in spring (AOU 1998).

Coded range extent pertains to the main winter range, which is smaller than the breeding range.

Number of Occurrences:  
Number of Occurrences Comments: The number of distinct occurrences or subpopulations has not been determined using standardized criteria, but this species is represented by a very large number of observation/collection sites (e.g., see GBIF database, eBird) and locations (as defined by IUCN).

Population Size: >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but very large, presumably much greater than 1,000,000 (e.g., Rich et al. 2004).

Overall Threat Impact: Low
Overall Threat Impact Comments: No major threats are known. This species uses natural and highly altered habitats, and it readily obtains food from increasingly numerous exotic plants and feeders. Feeders may contribute to predation by domestic cats and to increased incidence of window collisions, but predation, window collisions and other accidents, and nest parasitism are not significant threats (Miller and Gass 1985, Weidensaul et al. 2013). Population impacts of pesticides and other contaminants are unknown.

Altered spring migration timing (thought to be largely associated with climate change) has been documented; this could result in asynchrony between some (especially northern) ruby-throated hummingbird populations and their food resources (Courter et al. 2013). However, no detrimental impacts of altered migration timing are yet known, and in fact hummingbird populations in eastern North America appear to have increased even as migration timing has changed.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain, but area of occupancy and populartion size probably have been relatively stable or slowly increasing (Breeding Bird Survey data, other studies cited by Weidensaul et al. 2013).

Long-term Trend: Relatively Stable to increase of <25%
Long-term Trend Comments: Long-term trend (past 200 years) is uncertain, but available data (e.g., Breeding Bird Survey [1966-2013] and other studies reviewed by Weidensaul et al. 2013) suggest a gradual increase in range extent, area of occupancy, and abundance over the past several decades. In some areas, the species may be more widespread now than in the presettlement era due to the creation of edge habitat, the introduction of non-native flowering plants, and the popularity of feeders (Palmer-Ball 1996). Increasing observations of birds overwintering in the upper Gulf Coast region may be a response to plantings of exotic flowering plants and an abundance of feeders (Robinson et al. 1996, Weidensaul et al. 2013).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Breeding range extends from northeastern British Columbia, northern and central Alberta, central Saskatchewan, southern Manitoba, central Ontario, southern Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland south, east of the Rocky Mountains, to southern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, extreme northeastern Montana, extreme north-central and northeastern North Dakota southward through the eastern Great Plains to eastern and extreme southern Texas, the Gulf coast, and central (rarely southern) Florida, and west to eastern South Dakota, extreme eastern Nebraska, south-central Kansas, central Oklahoma, and east-central and coastal Texas (AOU 1998, Weidensaul et al. 2013). Recently documented breeders in northern Alberta and northeastern British Columbia probably represent a previously overlooked population (D. Cubie, pers. comm., cited by Weidensaul et al. 2013).

Winter range encompasses the Pacific slope of Mexico from southern Sinaloa south, and the interior and Caribbean slope of Mexico from southern Veracruz, the Yucatan Peninsula, and Oaxaca, south through Middle America (including Cozumel and Holbox islands) to central Costa Rica (south of Nicaragua most commonly on the Pacific slope), casually to western Panama (Chiriqui and western Panamá province); also small numbers from southeastern Texas and southern Louisiana along Gulf Coast to northwestern Florida, and also in southern Florida; casual in western Cuba (AOU 1998).

These hummingbirds migrate through southern Texas and northeastern and north-central Mexico; they are regular in Cuba, especially in spring (AOU 1998).

Coded range extent pertains to the main winter range, which is smaller than the breeding range.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV
Canada AB, BC, MB, NB, NF, NS, ON, PE, QC, SK

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002; WILDSPACETM 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
NE Boyd (31015), Brown (31017), Dixon (31051), Holt (31089), Keya Paha (31103), Nemaha (31127), Richardson (31147)
SD Day (46037), Roberts (46109)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
07 Upper Minnesota (07020001)+
10 Middle Niobrara (10150004)+, Lower Niobrara (10150007)+, Lewis and Clark Lake (10170101)+, Middle Big Sioux Coteau (10170201)+, Tarkio-Wolf (10240005)+, South Fork Big Nemaha (10240007)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A small bird (hummingbird).
General Description: In most of the breeding range this is the only hummingbird, so identification is easy. Adult males have a red throat and bronze-green back. Adult females have a grayish white throat, usually green crown, and a bronze-green back. Some older females have up to several red feathers on the throat. Juveniles resemble adult females, but subadult males in autumn may show some red in the the throat. Length is about 3.75 inches (7.5-9 cm).
Reproduction Comments: Egg-laying dates range from late March through early September; earliest clutches are laid in the deep south, the latest in the north. Clutch size is nearly always two, but clutches of one or three eggs have been reported. Eggs are laid 1-3 days apart; incubation begins after the first egg is laid. Incubation, by the female only, lasts 12-17 days. Hatching is asynchronous, 1-3 days apart. Brooding and feeding of young is by the female only. Young fledge in 18-22 days. Individual females often produce two or sometimes three broods per year (Bent 1940; Robinson et al. 1996; Terres 1991; R. Sargent, pers. comm.).
Ecology Comments: DENSITY: Density estimates have been reported as 0.8 pairs/10 hectares in cove forest to 0.9-1.2 pairs/10 hectares in chestnut oak forest in the Great Smoky Mountains (Wilcove 1988), 15-30 pairs/100 hectares in clearcut northern hardwood forest in Nova Scotia (Freedman et al. 1981), and 2 individuals/40.5 hectares in upland forest in Arkansas (James and Beal 1986). Unfortunately, such density estimates are unsatisfactory as males are polygamous and will mate with as many females as possible (R. Sargent, pers. comm.). One male defended a feeding territory (flower garden) encompassing 0.1 ha. Females maintain a territory in the vicinity of the nest (Pitelka 1942). If food sources allow, males may occupy territories as close together as 15 meters (Robinson et al. 1996). Although generally solitary, large numbers sometimes congregate around preferred food sources during fall migration. "Hundreds" were observed amid Jewelweed in September 1906 on Point Pelee, Ontario (Bent 1940) and 50 individuals were observed in a field of jewelweed near Racine, Wisconsin on 20 September 1941 (Robbins 1991).

SITE FIDELITY: Exhibits site fidelity. In Costa Rica, 25% of eight banded birds were recaptured in following years. At another overwintering study site (site info not provided in BNA), 10.6% of 1224 banded birds were recaptured in subsequent years (Robinson et al. 1996). In Pennsylvania, 1.3% of 4208 banded birds were recaptured in subsequent years (up to 3 years post-banding for males and up to 5 years post-banding for females).

POPULATION PARAMETERS: Sex ratios varied from parity for immatures to female-biased for adults. Estimated annual survivorship for this population was estimated to be 29.4% for males and 44.6% for females. Sexual differences in survivorship and female-biased adult sex ratios were thought to be a result of capture bias towards females and higher mortality of males (Mulvihill and Leberman 1992). Known maximum age is 5 years for males and 9 years for females (Robinson et al. 1996).

Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Many ruby-throated hummingbirds fly nonstop across the Gulf of Mexico during fall and spring migration. To power this flight, individuals may put on enough fat to double their body mass prior to departure. Other ruby-throats likely migrate over land through Mexico and Texas rather than over the Gulf of Mexico. In recent years, an increasing number of ruby-throats have wintered north of the Gulf of Mexico along the U.S. Gulf Coast (Weidensaul et al. 2013).

Early spring migrants begin arriving on the northern Gulf Coast in late February, although most birds arrive in March and early April (Robinson et al. 1996, Stevenson and Anderson 1994). Peak spring arrival time is mid-April in the Midwest, early May in the Great Lakes region, and mid-May in the northeastern states (Bertin 1982, Miller and Nero 1983). Spring migration overlaps with peak flowering of some, but not all, important nectar-producing plant species (Bertin 1982; R. Sargent, pers. comm.). Spring migrants arrive at the northern end of the breeding range 3-4 weeks before any herbaceous flowers are in bloom. These individuals rely heavily on tree sap obtained at yellow-bellied sapsucker holes (Miller and Nero 1983).

During recent decades, ruby-throated Hummingbirds have advanced their spring arrival dates on the breeding grounds by about 11-18 days (degree of advance varies with latitude), perhaps because wintering ranges have expanded northward in response to changing climate (Courter et al. 2013).

Fall migration begins in early August at the northern end of the breeding range. In Alabama, peak migration occurs between mid-August and early September (Robinson et al. 1996). Fall migration is nearly synchronous with flowering of jewelweed (Bertin 1982). Males precede females during both migrations. Migrants fly across the Gulf of Mexico and along the western Gulf Coast (Robinson et al. 1996, Weidensaul et al. 2013).

In a study area in coastal South Carolina, only one bird banded during spring, summer, or fall was recaptured during the winter, indicating a probable turnover of birds between summer and winter (Cubie 2014).

Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Forest Edge, Forest/Woodland, Grassland/herbaceous, Savanna, Suburban/orchard, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: Breeding habitat includes both heavily wooded and open deciduous, mixed pine-hardwood, or pine forests, forest edge, savannas, wetlands, orchards, parks, wooded yards, and gardens (Cadman et al. 1987, Jackson et al. 1996, Johnston and Odum 1956, Oberholser 1974, Palmer-Ball 1996, Robinson et al. 1996, Weidensaul et al. 2013). Nests are typically  near the tip of a downward-sloping branch, 0.5-15 meters above the ground or water and are often sheltered overhead by leaves but open below (Robinson et al. 1996, Weidensaul et al. 2013). During migration, these hummingbirds use habitats similar in structure to those used for breeding. Winter habitat includes brushy second growth, deciduous forest, tropical dry forest, tropical deciduous forest, gallery forest, shade trees in coffee plantations and yards, flowering hedges, and citrus groves (Stiles and Skutch 1989, Mills and Rogers 1992, Robinson et al. 1996, Weidensaul et al. 2013).
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore, Nectarivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore, Nectarivore
Food Comments: Diet includes floral nectar, small invertebrates and their eggs, and tree sap. Nectar is obtained at a wide variety of flowering plant species, especially at those having red, tubular flowers (Bent 1940, Robinson et al. 1996, Weidensaul et al. 2013). Floral nectar is obtained when hovering or perching at flowers. Insects are captured in flight, gleaned from vegetation, or plucked from spider webs (Bent 1940, Robinson et al. 1996, Weidensaul et al. 2013). Tree sap, and insects attracted to it, are taken at yellow-bellied sapsucker wells (Bent 1940, Miller and Nero 1983, Southwick and Southwick 1980).
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Length: 10 centimeters
Weight: 3 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Species does not appear to be threatened in any part of its range and does not appear to be in need of management (Weidensaul et al. 2013). Habitat changes associated with timber harvest generally are either benign or can enhance breeding populations. Development of monitoring programs to accurately track population trends, particularly in overwintering habitat, would be useful.
Restoration Potential: This species has good restoration potential, given its broad habitat preferences and ability to utilize flowers of non-native vegetation as sources of nectar.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Considered an area-independent, forest edge species (Freemark and Collins 1992). Probability of detection was equal in riparian forests ranging from 50 to 800 meters wide in Maryland and Delaware (Keller et al. 1993). Populations appear to be unaffected or enhanced by timber harvest on the breeding grounds. In northern hardwood forest in New York, relative abundance was unaffected by timber harvest varying from 0-100% of the stand (Webb et al. 1977). Likewise, in a deciduous forest tract in southern Illinois, detection was equal in uncut stands, recently cut stands (1-5 years prior), and less recently cut stands (10-15 years previous; Robinson and Robinson 1999). In pine-hardwood forest in Arkansas, no difference in abundance was detected among pine-hardwood stands and pine stands in which the hardwood component was reduced by cutting or cutting and burning (Wilson et al. 1995). In hardwood forest in Nova Scotia, abundance was enhanced by clearcutting (Freedman et al. 1981).
Management Requirements: Any form of land management that provides nesting sites (suitable woody vegetation) and ample food (nectar sources) during the nesting season will benefit this species. At the northern end of the breeding range where yellow-bellied sapsucker wells are a critical food source, management to favor birches and other preferred sap trees would benefit ruby-throated hummingbirds (Miller and Nero 1983).
Monitoring Requirements: This species can be monitored during the nesting season using point counts; however, due to the birds' small size and rapid flight, they may be overlooked. Data presented as pairs per unit area can be misleading due to the polygynous mating system (Robinson et al. 1996).

Management Programs: No known management programs are aimed directly at (or needed for) this species.
Monitoring Programs: Species is monitored on numerous North American Breeding Bird Survey routes (BBS) and during a limited number of Christmas Bird Counts (CBC; Sauer et al. 1999, Sauer et al. 1996, Breedng Bird Survey website). In addition, the species is monitored at numerous banding stations.
Management Research Programs: No known management research programs are aimed directly at (or needed for) this species.
Management Research Needs: No particular management research is needed, but additional means of monitoring populations would be useful. Also, the influence of feeders and planting of preferred nectar plants on reproductive success needs study.
Biological Research Needs: Better information is needed on the population impacts of pesticide use, the influence of feeders on the timing of migration and rates of predation, population regulation mechanisms, parasites, and the effects of deforestation in breeding and overwintering areas (Robinson et al. 1996, Weidensaul et al. 2013).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Hummingbirds

Use Class: Breeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding, or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: High potential for gene flow among populations of birds makes it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for hummingbirds; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other.
Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .1 km
Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of wintering individuals (including historical); and potential recurring presence at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of 25 birds in appropriate habitat (or fewer individuals for G1-G3 species). Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 7 days annually. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance somewhat arbitrary; a compromise between the often small home ranges of these birds, their great mobility, and the need for occurrences of reasonable size.
Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .1 km
Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 29Apr2015
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Management Information Edition Date: 29Apr2015
Management Information Edition Author: Palis, J: revisions by S. Cannings and G. Hammerson
Management Information Acknowledgments: The author thanks Robert Sargent for reviewing a draft of this document. Support for the preparation of this abstract was provided by the U.S. Air Force Arnold Engineering Development Center through The Nature Conservancy's Tennessee Field Office and Wings of the Americas program.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 30Apr2015
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G., and J. Palis

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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