PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — Hummingbirds are a sure sign that the summer months are rapidly approaching. These little birds zoom past at record speeds, and you can miss them when they fly past.
With over 300 species of hummingbirds throughout the world, you would be surprised to know that only a few different species of hummingbirds call Pennsylvania home.
There are at least six species of hummingbirds that have been recognized in the state, according to birdadvisors.com. However, only two of them are seen the most in the state.
The main species of hummingbird (and the only one residents of Pennsylvania see most of the time) is the ruby-throated hummingbird. These birds can be recognized by the brilliant red throat which is found in the males. Every hummingbird of this species has bronze and green feathers along their back. The female birds will show a grey-tinted white throat.
These birds love the forests, gardens, parks, and wet meadows. They weigh less than a penny and can grow to be three inches in length. These birds usually feed on nectar from plants or feeders, and insects, which they can even catch in mid-air. Some of the insects the ruby-throated hummingbird feed on are spiders, mosquitos, gnats, fruitflies, and small bees. However, nectar is the primary source of food for these animals, due to their very active lifestyle.
These birds cannot walk, and only land on branches or twigs or other small objects to perch. The birds are also known to be extremely territorial and very defensive if other hummingbirds approach. You may see two or more fight and perform some amazing acrobatic stunts. However, these fights rarely cause injury to the birds.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds make distinctive noises, usually when chasing other hummingbirds around. It’s a very high pitch chirp. Ruby-throated hummingbirds can beat their wings more than 50 times a second.
If you want to attract these hummingbirds, you can plant red, tubular flowers, as these flowers attract the most hummingbirds. You can also put out hummingbird feeders and make a sugar and water mixture for the birds to feed on.
They arrive in Pennsylvania around late April and May and migrate in September or even October.
The other hummingbird in the state is the Rufous hummingbird.
These are not as common in the state and can be considered quite rare. This species is known for being a winter hummingbird. According to birdadvisors.com, this bird arrives as early as August and leaves in April. You may see one or two if they got lost in their migration.
The male hummingbird has a bright orange neck, as well as on their back. The female is greenish brown on the back with rust-colored sides and a white belly.
Rufous hummingbirds are one of the longest migrating birds relative to their size, traveling up to 4,000 miles each way.
These hummingbirds are a reason to keep your hummingbird feeder out during the winter, as you may see one of these rare birds come around to your house.