Here in the Mississippi River region, Ruby-throated hummingbirds bring great joy to birdwatchers and nature lovers after a long winter’s absence.

 

Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird / Photo Credit: Matt Tillett

 

Upon returning to their North American breeding grounds from the south, many hummingbirds often make the 600-mile trip across the Gulf of Mexico in a single day. To prepare for this taxing journey, hummingbirds may double their weight, feeding on spiders, insects, flowers, and nectar. They are quick, little birds and are known for their aerial displays. They can fly up, down, forward, backward, and sideways.

 

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird in Flight / Photo Credit Curt Hart

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird in Flight / Photo Credit: Curt Hart

 

Hummingbird nests may appear delicate and small (about the size of a quarter), but they’re actually very strong. Made from plant fibers, spider silk, and pieces of lichen—an organism made up of a fungus and an alga—they are made to withstand heavy windstorms and other seasonal weather issues.

 

Hummingbird Nest / Photo Credit: Eli Duke

 

Female hummingbirds lay tiny jelly bean-sized eggs and stay busy during breeding season, often starting to build a new nest before baby hummingbirds have left an older nest. Male hummingbirds have a limited role in nesting and are typically involved in just courtship and mating. They often begin migrating south in August, while females typically stick around their nesting range for several more weeks, depending on weather and other regional factors.

 

Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird / Photo Credit: Jerry McFarland

 

Hummingbirds are truly fascinating birds! If you’d like to learn more about them, check out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds webpage.

To attract Ruby-throated hummingbirds to your patio, yard or garden, the Audubon Society gives great advice on planting native flowers, providing water for hummingbirds, and more. Using native plants for landscaping and gardening is great for biodiversity in general!

We hope you have the opportunity to enjoy many hummingbirds this season.

Be sure to check out our 1 Mississippi website for updates on Mississippi River events in your area!

And Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

Thank you for all that you do to help make a healthier Mississippi River.

Brooke Thurau

1 Mississippi Campaign Coordinator

 

 

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