Rufous Hummingbirds: The Queen of Flying among Migratory Birds

Rufous Hummingbirds are migratory hummingbirds which breed from the Pacific Northwest clear up into Alaska. They winter in the Yucatan down in Mexico and this means that they make a tremendous migration every year.

These little birds are incredible fliers. They can hover or fly in any direction swiftly and with ease. These exhibit amazing flight endurance on long-distance north and south migrations from southern Alaska to southernmost Mexico.

Some Rufous individuals have been banded and are known to fly 2,000 miles during their migratory transits, and to live to an average ripe old age of eight years old. At 3,600 wing beats per minute, that is a huge amount of effort and energy expended for these sugar-loving animals. They routinely fly at 25 miles per hour but some species reach 50 mph in courtship displays.

They have long slender nearly straight bills. Their wings are relatively short and do not reach the end of the tail when the birds are perched on a feeder or nearby branches. They are also one of the few North American hummingbirds to migrate long distances. Rufous hummingbirds are a western species, rarely straying into the eastern United States.

Although not the largest hummingbirds, Rufous are feisty, especially the males who chase and drive other hummers and large insects from their feeding territories

These birds spend a large proportion of their time on the move following the bloom of their favorite plants. As champion migrants, they spend their summer breeding period, to the north in Washington, Oregon and westernmost Canada.

The rufous hummingbird is found in forested and brushy areas, and forest edges. It winters in oak forests, mountain meadows, and in brush and scrubland areas. It can also be found in gardens.

The rufous hummingbird hovers over a flower and uses its long tongue to collect nectar. It also eats tree sap and insects like wasps, flies, ants and beetles. It catches insects in the air or snatches them off leaves or branches.