Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Ruby-throated hummingbird
Archilochus colubris

 

Taxonomy
Occurence in Illinois
Status
Habitat associations
Guilds
Food-habits
Environmental associations
Life history
Management practices
References


TAXONOMY

 

  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Apodiformes
  • Family: Trochilidae
  • Genus: Archilochus
  • Species: Archilochus colubris
  • Authority: Linnaeus

Comments on taxonomy:
Other names: common hummingbird, ruby throat *13*.

 


OCCURENCE IN ILLINOIS

Common migrant and farily common summer resident *02*.

 


STATUS

Items in bold indicate applicable categories
Forest Service Categories: S = recommended for regional sensitive status, F = forest listed species, M = management indicator species

Federal Status:

Endangered Threatened Proposed for listing
Candidate for proposal Recovery plan approved Recovery plan received (USFWS)
Recovery plan in preparation Under notice of review Delisted
Migratory EPA indicator Forest Serv.- Shawnee species

State Status:

Endangered Threatened Proposed

Other:

Game Furbearer Nongame protected
Sportfish Commercial Pest None of the above

Comments on status:
The ruby-throated hummingbird is protected by the Illinois wildlife code of 1971 *04* and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 *05*.

 


HABITAT ASSOCIATIONS

Items in bold indicate applicable categories

General habitat:

Unknown Terrestrial Aquatic Riparian

USFS timber inventory forest size class: >Seedling/sapling

Unknown Unstocked Seedling Sapling
Pole Mature Over mature

Land use and land cover:

Unknown   Urban Residential
Commercial
Industrial
Transportation, communication
Complex industrial/commercial
Mixed
Other
Agricultural Crop, pasture
Orchards, groves, nurseries
Feedlot
Other
Rangeland Herbaceous
Shrub and brush
Mixed
Forestland Deciduous
Evergreen
Mixed
Water Stream
Lake
Reservoir
Bay
Wetland Forest
Non-forest
Barren Salt flat
Beach
Sand
Rock
Mine
Transit
Mix

 


Forest cover types:

Cover typeStructural stageCanopy closureSeason
White pine-northern red oak-maple Shrub-seedling
(trees 1" dia.)
Unknown All
White pine-northern red oak-maple Young tree
(1-9" dia.)
Unknown All
White pine-northern red oak-maple Mature
(9" dia. &100 yrs. old)
Unknown All
Sugar maple-basswood Shrub-seedling
(trees 1" dia.)
Unknown All
Sugar maple-basswood Young tree
(1-9" dia.)
Unknown All
Sugar maple-basswood Mature
(9" dia. &100 yrs. old)
Unknown All
Sugar maple Shrub-seedling
(trees 1" dia.)
Unknown All
Sugar maple Young tree
(1-9" dia.)
Unknown All
Sugar maple Mature
(9" dia. &100 yrs. old)
Unknown All
Post oak-blackjack oak Unknown Unknown All
Bur oak Unknown Unknown All
Eastern redcedar Unknown Unknown All
Black locust Unknown Unknown All
White, black, and northern red oak Unknown Unknown All
White oak Unknown Unknown All
Northern red oak Unknown Unknown All
Beech-sugar maple Shrub-seedling
(trees 1" dia.)
Unknown All
Beech-sugar maple Young tree
(1-9" dia.)
Unknown All
Beech-sugar maple Mature
(9" dia. &100 yrs. old)
Unknown All
River birch-sycamore Unknown Unknown All
Silver maple-American elm Unknown Unknown All
Cottonwood Unknown Unknown All
Sassafras-persimmon Unknown Unknown All
Pin oak-sweetgum Unknown Unknown All
Shortleaf pine-oak Unknown Unknown All
Shortleaf pine-oak Shrub-seedling
(trees 1" dia.)
Unknown All
Shortleaf pine-oak Young tree
(1-9" dia.)
Unknown All
Shortleaf pine-oak Mature
(9" dia. &100 yrs. old)
Unknown All
Sweetgum-yellow poplar Shrub-seedling
(trees 1" dia.)
Unknown All
Sweetgum-yellow poplar Young tree
(1-9" dia.)
Unknown All
Sweetgum-yellow poplar Mature
(9" dia. &100 yrs. old)
Unknown All
Swamp chestnut oak-cherrybark oak Shrub-seedling
(trees 1" dia.)
Unknown All
Swamp chestnut oak-cherrybark oak Young tree
(1-9" dia.)
Unknown All
Swamp chestnut oak-cherrybark oak Mature
(9" dia. &100 yrs. old)
Unknown All
Sweetgum-willow oak Unknown Unknown All
Sweetgum-willow oak Shrub-seedling
(trees 1" dia.)
Unknown All
Sweetgum-willow oak Young tree
(1-9" dia.)
Unknown All
Sweetgum-willow oak Mature
(9" dia. &100 yrs. old)
Unknown All
Sugarberry-American elm-green ash Unknown Unknown All
Black willow Unknown Unknown All
Overcup oak-water hickory Shrub-seedling
(trees 1" dia.)
Unknown All
Overcup oak-water hickory Young tree
(1-9" dia.)
Unknown All
Overcup oak-water hickory Mature
(9" dia. &100 yrs. old)
Unknown All
Bald cypress Unknown Unknown All
Bald cypress-tupelo Shrub-seedling
(trees 1" dia.)
Unknown All
Bald cypress-tupelo Young tree
(1-9" dia.)
Unknown All
Bald cypress-tupelo Mature
(9" dia. &100 yrs. old)
Unknown All
Water tupelo-swamp tupelo Shrub-seedling
(trees 1" dia.)
Unknown All
Water tupelo-swamp tupelo Young tree
(1-9" dia.)
Unknown All
Water tupelo-swamp tupelo Mature
(9" dia. &100 yrs. old)
Unknown All
Black oak Unknown Unknown All

Associated tree species: No records.

Comments on species-habitat associations:
Found in woods, edges, weedy areas, gardens *02*.

Important plant and animal association: Yellow-bellied sapsucker. In MI, fed on tree phloem sap made available by yellow-bellied sapsucker. This is a dependable energy source in northern climate. As dlong as drills kept open by sapsuckers; author suggests that hummingbirds in N. MI may be energetically coupled to sapsuckers *25*.

High value habitats

HabitatStructural stageSeason
Residential Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Spring
Residential Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Fall
Residential Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Spring/summer
Orchards, groves, vineyards, nurseries, ornamental horticulture areas Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Spring
Orchards, groves, vineyards, nurseries, ornamental horticulture areas Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Fall
Orchards, groves, vineyards, nurseries, ornamental horticulture areas Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Spring/summer
Forest land All Spring
Forest land All Fall
Forest land All Spring/summer
Forested wetland All Spring
Forested wetland All Fall
Forested wetland All Spring/summer
Forest Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Spring
Forest Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Fall
Forest Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Spring/summer
Savanna Special habitat Spring
Savanna Special habitat Fall
Savanna Special habitat Spring/summer

Species-habitat interrelations: In Illinois, during summer or migration may be found in woods, edge, weedy areas, gardens *02*; nest in various types of trees often near water *06,09*. Usually nest in open woods, but may nest in dense woods or in edge of forest *13*. Will feed wherever there are flowering plants; open woodlands, orchards, parks, gardens *06,09*.

 


GUILDS

Feed-guilding:

HabitatStructural stageSeasonFeed-guilds
Residential Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All Tree bole- tree sap
Shrub strata- flowers and fruits of forbs
Shrub strata- flowers, fruits, seeds of deciduous shrubs
Shrub strata- flowers, fruits, seeds of evergreen shrubs
Tree canopy- flowers, fruits, seeds of lianas
Shrub strata- arthropods
Tree canopy- arthropods
Orchards, groves, vineyards, nurseries, ornamental horticulture areas Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All Tree bole- tree sap
Shrub strata- flowers and fruits of forbs
Shrub strata- flowers, fruits, seeds of deciduous shrubs
Shrub strata- flowers, fruits, seeds of evergreen shrubs
Tree canopy- flowers, fruits, seeds of lianas
Shrub strata- arthropods
Tree canopy- arthropods
Forest land All All Tree bole- tree sap
Shrub strata- flowers and fruits of forbs
Shrub strata- flowers, fruits, seeds of deciduous shrubs
Shrub strata- flowers, fruits, seeds of evergreen shrubs
Tree canopy- flowers, fruits, seeds of lianas
Shrub strata- arthropods
Tree canopy- arthropods
Forested wetland All All Tree bole- tree sap
Shrub strata- flowers and fruits of forbs
Shrub strata- flowers, fruits, seeds of deciduous shrubs
Shrub strata- flowers, fruits, seeds of evergreen shrubs
Tree canopy- flowers, fruits, seeds of lianas
Shrub strata- arthropods
Tree canopy- arthropods

Comments on feed-guilding:
Hovers to feed on nectar from flowers or sap at tree; tongue is tubular and brush tipped *13*. Also get insects from plants; may hover at spider web to pick out insects *13,26*. Feed wherever flowering plants occur; woodlands, orchards, parks, gardens *06,09*.

Breed-guilding:

HabitatStructural stageSeasonBreed-Guilds
Forest land All Spring/summer Tree canopy, branches of broad-leaved deciduous trees
Tree canopy, branches of needle-leaved deciduous trees
Tree canopy, branches of broad-leaved evergreen trees
Tree canopy, branches of needle-leaved evergreen trees
Orchards, groves, vineyards, nurseries, ornamental horticulture areas Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Spring/summer Tree canopy, branches of broad-leaved deciduous trees
Tree canopy, branches of needle-leaved deciduous trees
Tree canopy, branches of broad-leaved evergreen trees
Tree canopy, branches of needle-leaved evergreen trees
Forested wetland All Spring/summer Tree canopy, branches of broad-leaved deciduous trees
Tree canopy, branches of needle-leaved deciduous trees
Tree canopy, branches of broad-leaved evergreen trees
Tree canopy, branches of needle-leaved evergreen trees

Comments on breed-guilding:
Nest in woodlands and orchards, often near water, occasionally directly above water *06,09*. Usually in open woods, but also in dense woods or at woods and edge *13*. Nest is built on horizontal tree limb at any height from ground, but usually more than 6 feet; branches an inch or more are usually selected - oaks, pines, maples used most *17*. Nest is a small cup made of plants, ferns; covered with moss & lichens *11*.

 


FOOD-HABITS

Trophic level is OMNIVORE

Food itemLife stage/plant part
Plants Pollen, nectar
Tracheophyta (vascular plants) Pollen, sap
Spermopsida (seed plants) Nectar
Angiospermae (flowering plants) Pollen, nectar
Bignoniaceae (trumpet creeper) Nectar
Ranunculaceae (buttercup, marigold) Nectar
Polemoniaceae (phlox) Nectar
Solanaecae (tobacco, tomato) Nectar
Lamiaceae (sage, mint) Nectar
Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle, elderberry) Nectar
Liliaceae (lily, onion)  
Arachnida (spiders, ticks, scorpions, daddy longlegs) Unknown
Insecta Adult
Hemiptera Unknown
Homoptera (cicadas, aphids) Unknown
Coleoptera (beetles) Adult
Diptera (flies, midges, mosquitoes) Adult
Hymenoptera (ants, wasps, bees) Adult
Juvenile:
Plants Pollen, nectar
Tracheophyta (vascular plants) Pollen, sap
Spermopsida (seed plants) Nectar
Angiospermae (flowering plants) Pollen, nectar
Bignoniaceae (trumpet creeper) Nectar
Ranunculaceae (buttercup, marigold) Nectar
Polemoniaceae (phlox) Nectar
Solanaecae (tobacco, tomato) Nectar
Lamiaceae (sage, mint) Nectar
Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle, elderberry) Nectar
Liliaceae (lily, onion)  
Insecta Adult
Coleoptera (beetles) Adult
Diptera (flies, midges, mosquitoes) Adult
Hymenoptera (ants, wasps, bees) Adult
Adult:
Plants Pollen, nectar
Tracheophyta (vascular plants) Pollen, sap
Spermopsida (seed plants) Nectar
Angiospermae (flowering plants) Pollen, nectar
Bignoniaceae (trumpet creeper) Nectar
Ranunculaceae (buttercup, marigold) Nectar
Polemoniaceae (phlox) Nectar
Solanaecae (tobacco, tomato) Nectar
Lamiaceae (sage, mint) Nectar
Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle, elderberry) Nectar
Liliaceae (lily, onion)  
Insecta Adult
Coleoptera (beetles) Adult
Diptera (flies, midges, mosquitoes) Adult
Hymenoptera (ants, wasps, bees) Adult

Comments on food habits: 
General: Feed on flower nectar, tree sap, *13,25,26*. Depend on insects in absence of flowers *13,26*.
Juvenile: At fledging young switch from insects to nectar *18*.
Adult: See [FH]


ENVIRONMENTAL ASSOCIATIONS

General:

  • Aquatic habitats: swamp
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Vegetation mosaics/edges: see comments
  • Ecotones: woodland/water
  • Ecotones: coniferous trees/deciduous trees
  • Orchards: see comments
  • Shrubs: see comments
  • Herbs-leguminous forbs: see comments
  • Coniferous forest: see comments
  • Hardwood forest: see comments
  • Human associations: residential lawn/ornamental trees and shrubs
  • Human associations: public residential parks
  • Human associations: state and county parks
  • Unknown

Egg:

  • Unknown

Feeding adult:

  • Vegetation mosaics/edges: see comments
  • Orchards: see comments
  • Shrubs: see comments
  • Herbs-leguminous forbs: see comments
  • Coniferous forest: see comments
  • Hardwood forest: see comments
  • Human associations: residential lawn/ornamental trees and shrubs
  • Human associations: public residential parks
  • Human associations: state and county parks

Resting adult:

  • Vegetation mosaics/edges: see comments
  • Shrubs: see comments
  • Coniferous forest: see comments
  • Hardwood forest: see comments

Breeding adult:

  • Aquatic habitats: swamp
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Vegetation mosaics/edges: see comments
  • Ecotones: woodland/water
  • Orchards: see comments
  • Shrubs: see comments
  • Coniferous forest: see comments
  • Hardwood forest: see comments

Comments on environmental associations:
General: Availability of flowers important *06,09,13,24,26*, possibly also sapsucker holes *25*.
Resting juvenile: Young rest in nest *09*.
Feeding adult: Feed in woodlands, orchards, parks, gardens; wherever flowering plants *06,09*.
Resting adult: Frequently perch on limbs of trees, less frequently on telephone wires *11*.
Breeding adult: Often nest near or, occasionally directly above water *06,09*. Nest in woodland or woodland edge *17*. Often uses oaks, pines, maples - also beech, sycamore, hemlock, apple - *06,09,17*. May also nest in orchard *13*.


LIFE HISTORY

Origin: Native *02*.

Physical description: Length: male 8.26 cm; female 9.65 cm *11*; weight: male average 3500 kg; female 4000 kg *14*; adult male above metallic bronze-green including middle pair of tail feathers; wings dark brownish slate or dusky; faintly glassed with purplish; tail dark bronzy-purplish; chin, cheek region below the eyes, and the sides of head velvety black; a small spot back of eyes white; whole throat brilliant metallic red changing to golden or greenish in different lights; chest dull brownish white; passing gradually into deeper brownish gray on breast and abdomen; the sides and flanks darker and overlaid by metallic bronze-green; thick tufts and tuft in each side of rump; white under tail; coverts brownish gray centrally, broadly margined with dull white; bill dull black; iris dark brown; adult female similar to adult male but lacks red throat and has blunt tail with white spots *11*; large sphinx moths may be mistaken for them *12*; basal heart rate=615 beats/minute *15*.

Reproduction: Breed early may to mid july *16*; eggs found March-July; incubation=16 days; 2 or ocassionally 3 broods/season; clutch=2 pure white eggs *13*; eggs .5x.35 *17*; incubation May 17 through August 4 *16*; promiscuous *09*; in one of male courtship flights or intimidation displays he swings in wide arc of 180 degrees back and forth, at the bottom of the swing his wings make loud buzz *13*; sexes remain together for only a few days or until incubation begins *19*.

Behavior: Attacks and chases kingbirds, crows and even dives at eagles that fly over territory; sexes travel apart in migration; male precedes the female; usually seen singly or at most two or three together, but sometimes up to a dozen or more may swarm about a large tree; sometimes battles with bumblebees over feeding rights and flowers *13*; intolerant of each other when feeding; segregation of sexes, tendency for the male and female to feed in different areas *20*; migrate chiefly or exclusively by day *19*; fall migration August 15 to September 10; spring migration April 25 to May 25 *16*; nest in various types of trees, often near, and occasionally directly over water; in open woodlands or orchards of trees which include sugar maple, beech, sycamore, oak, apple, hemlocks, and others *06, 09*. nest usually in open woods, also in dense woods, margin of forests *13*; build nest on horizontal limbs of trees at any height from the ground, but usually more than 6 feet; branches an inch or more in diameter are usually selected; not particular as to the kind of tree, but oaks, pines, and maples used the most *17*; nest is an exquisite cup less than 2 inches across of felted plants ferns or dandelion seed down; covered with moss and lichens and fastened with spider webs; lined with layers of down; frequently perches on the limbs of trees or less frequently on telephone wires; nest saddles on small limbs from 12-30 feet from ground *11*; habitat is moist forest types; hedgerows and wood margins areas with brush or small trees and large, showy flowers *16*; young fly about 20-22 days after hatching *13*; young fed while in nest; young rest while in nest *09*; feed in open woodlands, orchards, parks, and gardens; wherever there are flowering plants on which they can feed *06,09*.

 


MANAGEMENT PRACTICES

Beneficial:

  • Maintaining undisturbed/undeveloped areas
  • Maintaining habitat diversity
  • Controlling pollution
  • Developing/maintaining riparian habitat
  • Developing/maintaining streamside vegetation to prevent erosion and provide riparian habitat
  • Reforestation
  • Developing/maintaining forest edge
  • Maintaining forests
  • Providing food and cover for species under consideration
  • Providing seasonal supplemental feeding
  • Restricting human disturbance during migration, breeding, and nesting

Adverse:

  • Applying herbicides
  • Cutting and deforestation
  • Application of pesticides
  • Application of insecticides

Comments on management practices:
This species can be aided by planting of flowering plants and by providing sugar water in specialized feeders *06,09*; also increase areas of showy flowers of red, orange, and pink; increase areas of wood margins *10*; food supplements; maintain mature hardwood forest *06,09*; restrict human harassment during migration *06,09*. Adverse practices include: industrial pollution; timber harvesting; removing forest land for farming; intensive agriculture practices *06,09*.


REFERENCES

0. VIRGINIA: GOLDBECK, J.B., 1400-A TERRACE VIEW AND HELMS, T.R., 101 CHEATHAM HALL, VIRGINIA TECH. BLACKSBURG, VA. 24061.

1. MISSOURI.

2. BOHLEN, H. 1978. AN ANNOTATED CHECK-LIST OF THE BIRDS OF ILLINOIS. ILLINOIS STATE MUS. POP. SCI. SER., VOL. IX. 156 P.

3. AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGISTS' UNION. 1984. CHECK-LIST OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS. 6TH EDITION. ALLEN PRESS, INC. LAWRENCE KS. 877 P.

4. ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION. 1980. CONSERVATION LAWS. CH. 61. WILDLIFE. ART. II. PAR. 2.2. REPRINTED FROM ILLINOIS REVISED STATUTES, 1979. WEST PUBL. CO., ST. PAUL, MN. 123 PP.

5. U.S. FISH WILDLIFE SERVICE. 1983. CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS. TITLE 50. WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES. CHAPTER 1. PP. 11-18. 50 CFR 10.13. LIST OF MIGRATORY BIRDS. SPECIAL PUBL. FEDERAL REGISTER. GENERAL SERVICES ADMIN. OCTOBER 1.

6. TODD, W.E.C. 1940. BIRDS OF WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA. UNIV. PITTSBURG PRESS, PITTSBURGH, PENN.

7. IMHOF, T.A. 1976. ALABAMA BIRDS. 2ND ED. UNIV. ALABAMA PRESS.

8. LEGRAND, H.E., JR., AND P.B. HAMEL. 1980. BIRD-HABITAT ASSOCIATIONS ON SOUTHEASTERN FOREST LANDS. DEP. ZOOL., CLEMSON UNIV., CLEMSON S.C. NUMBER OF PAGES: 276 SOURCE FORM: PAPER.

9. BENT, A.C. 1940. LIFE HISTORIES OF NORTH AMERICAN CUCKOOS, GOATSUCKERS, HUMMINGBIRDS AND THEIR ALLIES. U.S. NATL. MUS. BULL. NO. 176. U.S. GOV. PRINTING OFF., WASHINGTON, D.C. NUMBER OF PAGES: 566 SOURCE FORM: PAPER.

10. HAUSMAN, J.B. 1947. THE ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN BIRDS. GARDEN CITY PUBL., CO., GARDEN CITY, N.Y.

11. UNKNOWN, 1936. BIRDS OF AMERICA. PART III. PEARSON, T.G., ED. DOUBLEDAY BOOK CO., INC. GARDEN CITY, N.Y.

12. PETERSON, R.T. 1980. A FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS; A COMPLETELY NEW GUIDE TO ALL THE BIRDS OF EASTERN AND CENTRAL NORTH AMERICA. 4TH ED. HOUGHTON MIFFLIN CO., BOSTON, MASS.

13. TERRES, J.K. 1980. THE AUDUBON SOCIETY ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS. ALFRED A. KNOPF, N.Y.

14. UNKNOWN. 1970. SYMPOSIUM ON RARE AND ENDANGERED MOLLUSKS. MALACOLOGIA. VOL. 10. CLARKE, A.H., ED. SOURCE FORM: OTHER1.

15. ODUM, E.P. 1945. THE HEART RATE OF SMALL BIRDS. SCIENCE 101:153-154.

16. STEWART, R.E., AND C.S. ROBBINS. 1958. BIRDS OF MARYLAND AND DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. U.S. GOV. PRINTING OFF., WASHINGTON, D.C.

17. REED, C.A. 1965. NORTH AMERICAN BIRD EGGS. DOVER PUBL., INC., NEW YORK, N.Y.

18. 02M

19. VAN TYNE, J., AND A.J. BERGER. 1959. FUNDAMENTALS OF ORNITHOLOGY. JOHN WILEY AND SONS INC., NEW YORK, N.Y.

20. FOSTER, W.L., AND J. TATE, JR. 1966. THE ACTIVITIES AND COACTIONS OF ANIMALS AT SAPSUCKER TREES. LIVING BIRD 5:87-113.

21. DENNIS, S. 1979. FRESHWATER AND TERRESTRIAL MOLLUSCS. PAGES 123-127 PROC. SYMP. ON ENDANGERED AND THREATENED PLANTS AND ANIMALS OF VIRGINIA. EXT. DIV., VIRGINIA POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE AND STATE UNIV., BLACKSBURG, VA. SOURCE FORM: OTHER1.

22. 03M

23. 10M

24. 09M

25. 11M

26. 08M

 


 

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