This airborne jewel is an immensely popular backyard visitor that is frequently banded at the Powdermill station. Powdermill is unusual among hummingbird banding stations in that no bait is used; the only “bait” is the naturally flowering jewelweed and cardinal flowers that grow in the area. A special permit is required to band hummingbirds, and the bands themselves must be hand-crafted to fit properly on the bird’s tiny legs.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are commonly seen at hummingbird feeders; they also eat insects, spiders, and nectar. As they move through meadows and gardens on their hunt for food, they act as important pollinators of flowers and other plants. Their specialized anatomy allows them to fly upside-down and backward, with their tiny wings a blur at up to 70 beats per second.
Of the 340 species of hummingbird, this is the only one that breeds in eastern North America, migrating to the southern U.S. and Central America for the winter. As is fitting for these iridescent beauties, their spring migration route north follows the blooming schedule of their preferred flowers.