Male and Female Rufous Hummingbirds. Photo credit: See below.

Male and Female Rufous Hummingbirds. Photo credits: See below.

Rufous Hummingbirds have begun to arrive in the Pacific Northwest once again, heralds of spring I always look forward to seeing. On the other hand, I inevitably feel bad for the Anna’s Hummingbirds, who’ve enjoyed having nectar feeders across the Northwest all to themselves…unharassed…during the winter months. Cute as they are, the territorial Rufous Hummingbirds seem to be natural bullies, aggressively chasing away Anna’s hummers from feeders they’d previously had unrestricted access to. Thus ensues their months-long dance, as they testily take turns at feeders each species wants to claim as their own.

Here’s the “buzz” on the Rufous Hummingbird:

Species: Selasphorus rufus
Family: TROCHILIDAE

Size and markings: The Rufous Hummingbird is just 3-3.75 inches long, with a wingspan of about 4 inches. The male is the only North American hummingbird with a rufous back. His throat is a showy red-orange, and his upperparts and sides are a deep rust. Forehead may be green. The female has a green head and back, and sides are a light rufous. Adult females may show a few rufous feathers on the throat. The bill on both is long and thin.

Food: The tiny yet very busy Rufous Hummingbird prefers nectar and is especially drawn to red flowers. It will also feast on spiders and small insects like gnats and fruit flies for protein. The Rufous will readily use a hummingbird feeder when provided and will return to it often to help keep up its energy.

Habitat/nesting/behavior: Brushy, lightly wooded areas are a favorite habitat of the Rufous Hummingbird, but it will also reside in suburban areas like parks and neighborhoods. It’s very aggressive and protective of the territories where it feeds and breeds. Fast wing beats produce a light hum in flight.

Number of broods per year: 1
Number of eggs per brood: 2-3

Migratory pattern: The Rufous Hummingbird is a summer resident of the Pacific Northwest, western Canada, and Alaska. Amazingly, it winters in southern Mexico, which gives this tiny bird the distinction of having the longest migratory route for its body size.

Months usually seen at backyard feeders: Spring and summer months.

The above facts about the Rufous Hummingbird were taken from Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds.


Learn more about your backyard birds in Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds. Get it for your Kindle (which you can also read on your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet with this free reading app), Nook, on Smashwords, or in the iTunes bookstore.

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Credits for photos in collage, above: Female Rufous Hummingbird, by Sberardi, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en;
Male Rufous Hummingbird, by Ryan Bushby, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/.

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