(Contenido disponible en Español está marcado abajo)
Hummingbirds feed by day on nectar from a variety of flowers, including annuals and perennials. Like the bees we talked about previously, this makes them important pollinators. Although there are more than 300 species of hummingbirds, the only hummingbird we’re likely to see in Chicago is the ruby-throated hummingbird. Let’s explore this beauty!
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are migratory, so we only see them in Illinois for a part of the year. They’re typically in Illinois from late April to early October. Despite their name, only adult males have that beautiful ruby coloring. Females and juvenile males have white throats. They measure in at 3.25 inches and only weigh .1 ounce (that’s less than a pencil)! Hummingbirds have a special beak designed to fit into flowers, allowing their tongues to lap up nectar. You can learn more about them by checking out the Audubon Field Guide.
Guiding Question: What similarities do hummingbirds have to other birds we’ve talked about? What differences do they have? Why do you think that might be?
Track their migration!
Like other birds, hummingbirds don’t spend the whole year in one place. The majority spend the winter in Mexico and Central America. Now that it’s spring, and the weather is warming up, the hummingbirds will be making their way back to our area. You can track their migration by checking out this map. Plus, you can keep up with the hummingbirds in your area and contribute to science with Audubon’s Hummingbirds at Home.
Guiding Question: Let’s compare the 2020 migration map to the 2019 map. Do you notice any patterns, similarities, or differences? What factors might affect their migration? What do you think they need in order to travel such long distances? Based on the 2019 map, when do you think you’ll be able to spot a ruby-throated hummingbird in our neighborhood?
Let’s go for a walk!
Take a walk in your neighborhood and observe the birds around you! Take your Nature Notebook and make notes of your observations, including sights and sounds. Want to enhance your walk even more? Make your own bird-finder binoculars!
Guiding Question: What are the birds doing? What colors are the birds? Can you find other active animals on your walk?
Let’s make some nest comparisons!
(Disponible en español)
What can we learn about birds from their nests? Let’s compare and contrast nests from two different birds and see what they can tell us about the birds’ lives. Click here to download this handout.
Behind the scenes!
Hummingbirds are one of our important bird pollinators, but they’re not the only ones! In other parts of the world, honeycreepers, like the ones in our Judy Istock Butterfly Haven, are important pollinators! Click here to check out a video of one of our honeycreepers enjoying some food.