Hummingbirds (family Trochilidae) hatch from eggs no larger than a small pea; their babies cannot fly for three weeks after birth. These tiny birds are the smallest in the world. According to research conducted at the University of British Columbia, they return to yards year after year because of their good memories. These colorful birds are the only birds in the world that can fly forward, backward and upside-down. Of the 356 identified types or species of hummingbirds in the world, most live in Central and South America. At least five types migrate in summer to North America.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds spend their summers in the United States, primarily east of the Mississippi. They are attracted to feeders and are intensely curious creatures, and the males are aggressive toward other hummers and extremely territorial. You can identify them by the ruby coloring along the throat. An adult female is larger than the male with a longer bill and an emerald green back. These remarkable birds cross the Gulf of Mexico in a single flight.
The Allen's hummingbird migrates to the West Coast of North America each summer. The male throat is iridescent scarlet, while the head is metallic green; some males are orange on the rump. The female's throat is white with a few red feathers. These birds migrate early compared to other hummers; sometimes males begin their flight north in early December and return to their winter home as early as August.
Rufous hummingbirds travel through California to Canada and on to southern Alaska, before returning 2,000 miles back to Mexico for the winter. An adult rufous male has a white breast with an iridescent orange-red throat patch, and some also have green on their backs. Females have green upper parts and are slightly larger than the males.
A male costa hummingbird is unique with his purple cap and throat, and he sports a green back and a black tail. A female is grayish-green with a white underbelly. She builds a cup-shaped nest made of plant fibers and down, which is held together with lichen. The arid deserts of the southwestern United States and the Baja California peninsula of Mexico are home to these colorful birds.
This medium-sized hummingbird is the only one seen in winter on the West Coast of the United States. This species is commonly present year-round near the Puget Sound area of western Washington. The male boasts an iridescent rose-colored crown and has a distinctive pale eye ring. The female hummingbird is greenish-black and gray with a green head.
Linda Woolhether is a retired teacher born in Texas, but now resides in Wyoming. Her career as a reading and writing teacher spanned 20-plus years. She holds a Master of Arts in education in curriculum and instruction and is experienced in various types of writing. She was successful in writing several educational grants while teaching. Completing a novel is presently her goal.