The statistics for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are almost as stunning as a close-up look at their iridescent plumage.
Their wings can flap up to 80 times a second. They weigh about 3 grams – a wisp of a bird at a tenth of an ounce. They can go from breakneck speed to a full stop in an instant.
And when they do hang suspended in midair, their wings a blur of motion, the sight is one of nature’s most precious moments. It evaporates as suddenly as it appears, making the encounters all the more intriguing.
The Ruby-throated is one of 300 hummingbird species worldwide, only a few dozen of which are in the U.S. and Canada. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the single species found in the Eastern United States, but it’s plentiful and not particularly shy. So these spectacular hummingbirds are not hard to spot, particularly this time of year.
In late summer, as the hummingbirds are preparing to migrate halfway across the hemisphere, they are in the midst of a feeding frenzy to bulk up for the journey. They consume their entire weight in nectar each day, which the Audubon Society calculated was the equivalent of a human drinking 18 gallons of milk.