BIRDS OF THE BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON METRO AREA
METROPOLITAN NATURALIST
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a summertime resident in our area, spending the winters in
Central America and south Florida. These birds are attracted to hummingbird feeders where their
incredible flying skills can be observed as they dart and hover while feeding and chasing each
other. Only the mature male has the ruby red throat for which the bird was named. This is the only
species of hummingbird normally found in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area.

The long beak is used to sip nectar from flowers, the hummingbird's favorite food. They also eat
small insects.

Hummingbird feeders, like the one in the pictures below, are a popular and effective way to attract
hummingbirds to backyards.

Red dye is often added to sugar water used in hummingbird feeders. The red dye is unnecessary
and may even be harmful to these birds. A red feeder or even a red ribbon tied to a feeder can be
used to attract hummingbirds.
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A Hummingbird visits a feeder outside the visitor center at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Refuge,
North Tract. Notice the clear "nectar" in the feeder, without red food color. The red plastic of the
feeder was sufficient attract this bird.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can be distinguished from males by the white-tipped tail feathers. Adult males
have a bright ruby-red throat. Immature males lack the bright red throat, but also do not have the white tail feathers.
Hummingbird feeders attract bees and other insects, like this Bald-faced Hornet on the front edge of the feeder.
A female hummingbird is approaching at the back of the feeder.