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Wild Woman: Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

Kirsten Bartlow with the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission tells us about these feathered friends.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - It's springtime and birds are back in our backyards.

Kirsten Bartlow with the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission tells us about hummingbirds.

What kind of hummingbirds do we have in Arkansas?
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are our most common species and are most often seen in the state between April and October when our nectar-bearing flowers are blooming. They weigh about 3.5 grams, slightly more than a penny. They can fly forward, backward, up, down and even upside down—up to 60 mph! Their wings tread the air in a figure-8 pattern so rapidly that they emit a loud hum. They use a ton of energy so they are constantly on the look-out for food. One bird may visit 2,000 flowers in a day. They also eat small spiders and tiny insects for protein.

How can I attract hummingbirds to my yard?
Hummingbirds can easily be attracted with tubular flowers that bloom from spring to fall: cardinal flower, butterfly weed, gladioli, petunia, trumpet creeper, morning glory. Feeders also attract hummingbirds. Dissolve 1 part sugar in 4 parts hot tap water. Red food coloring in not needed to attract the birds. Change the nectar ever few days to prevent mold. Hang at least three feeders and keep them 10 feet apart. Hummingbirds fiercely defend their food sources.

Fun Facts:
  • Ruby-throated hummingbirds may migrate 2,000 miles/year.
  • Hummingbirds beat their wings 50 to 200 times per second.
  • More than 160 plants depend exclusively on hummingbirds for pollination.
  • Hummingbirds are one of the only birds that are hunted by insects— the praying mantis.
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