A “glittering fragment of the rainbow” is how an early American naturalist described the hummingbird. He must have been impressed with its shimmering green plumage and crimson throat feathers.
Also impressive are their size and speed. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are by far our smallest bird. They are a mere three inches long and weigh as little as one dime.
Hummingbirds use their small size and hovering flight to suck nectar from flowers. They can fly backwards, sideways and, in battles with other hummingbirds, even upside down. Their tiny wings are a blur-beating 75 times per second!
Hummingbirds migrate to the Midwest in April and can be with us until October. Many people have discovered the pleasure of attracting them to their homes by providing special feeders at garden and hardware stores. Fill them with a mixture of one part sugar to four parts water. Hummingbirds normally feed at plants with red or orange tubular flowers, so plant columbines, begonias, geraniums and snapdragons to entice these fragments of the rainbow to your yard.
For more information, visit MDC’s Field Guide.