Hummingbirds Will Soon Return for Spring

Hummingbird sitting on bird feeder

Goodbye Winter and Hello Spring!

One of the most exciting things about spring is the return of wildlife that spent the winter down south. Looking for hummingbirds is the perfect opportunity to get outside and celebrate the start of a new season. The ruby-throated hummingbird is the only hummingbird species in Ontario. There are over 280 different species of birds in the Credit River Watershed – which includes birds that pass through the watershed during migration and spend the winters here. To celebrate spring, here are five facts about Ontario’s only hummingbird in the Credit River Watershed:

Hummingbirds are incredibly agile

The word hummingbird comes from the humming noise their wings make as they beat so fast. It can fly at speeds up to 75 kilometres per hour – they can even fly upside down! They’re able to do this because they flap their wings in a figure eight formation, which other birds can’t do. They are truly little acrobats.

Female ruby-throated hummingbirds don’t have red throats

Hummingbird mid-flight
A female ruby-throated hummingbird.

Adult male hummingbirds of course have the ruby throat but it’s not always obviously red. In certain lighting or at certain angles it can appear black. Adult and juvenile females have a white throat that is sometimes marked with faint grey or buffy streaking.

They have fast heartbeats

When ruby-throats are working really hard, their hearts race around 1,200 beats per minute. In calmer times, that rate drops to 600 beats per minute. For comparison, humans have a resting heart rate of about 72. Hummingbirds are small but mighty creatures.

You can easily attract them to your yard

Just like humans, ruby-throated hummingbirds are attracted to their favourite colours. They love red, orange, pink, yellow and purple. Try planting the beautiful native jewelweeds (Impatiens capensis orImpatiens pallida), wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), or American fly honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis).

Flower surrounded by leaves
Wild bergamot is a beautiful purple colour.

They work really hard and fast

In flight, hummingbirds reach top speeds of about 50 kilometres per hour while moving forward but they can double that speed to up to 90 kilometres per hour while diving. Their speed in flight is aided by how quickly they beat their wings — 53 times per second. They also breathe quickly, taking about 250 breathes per minute at rest. In flight, they breathe even more rapidly.

Hummingbird feeding from bird feeder
Ruby-throated hummingbird require frequent feedings throughout the day.

Birding is a wonderful way to connect with your surroundings and appreciate all that nature has to offer. Not to mention it’s one of the fastest growing outdoor activities in North America.

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By Kimberley Laird, Associate, Marketing and Communications

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