Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Male vs Female (Best Way to Tell)

The ruby-throated hummingbird is a fascinating species of hummingbird found primarily in the eastern United States. These agile creatures are known for their vibrant colors and rapid wing movements. One particular aspect of these birds that captivates bird-watchers and enthusiasts alike is the distinction between male and female ruby-throated hummingbirds.

Physical and behavioral differences between the male and female ruby-throated hummingbirds are significant in nature. While male ruby-throated hummingbirds have iridescent red throats and grayish-white bellies, their female counterparts possess white throats and bellies. Their unique behaviors and traits contribute to the rich diversity seen within the species, piquing the interest of observers everywhere.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ruby-throated hummingbirds exhibit distinct physical appearances between males and females.
  • Unique behavioral differences can be observed between the sexes.
  • These distinctive traits contribute to the fascinating characteristics of ruby-throated hummingbirds.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Male vs Female

Throat Color

One of the most recognizable features of the male Ruby-throated Hummingbird is its vibrant red throat, or gorget. This bright red hue appears iridescent and sparkles in bright light. On the other hand, females sport a whitish throat, making it easier to distinguish between the two. Additionally, the male has a black chin, while the female’s chin is paler.

Read Next: Rufous vs Allen’s Hummingbird

Size and Shape

In terms of size and structure, female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are slightly larger than males. The female’s rounded tail, which has white tips on the outer feathers, is another distinguishing factor. Males, conversely, have shorter wings and a more pointed tail, with no white tips.


Other physical traits to keep an eye on include the bill, eyes, and flanks. Both male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have a straight, black bill. However, you might notice that the male’s flanks are grayish-white, while the female’s flanks are a bit paler.


Lastly, juvenile male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can be tricky to distinguish from their adult counterparts. However, with careful observation, you can spot the differences. Juvenile males have less-developed gorgets and more unnoticeable throat markings. Their upperparts are also metallic green, similar to the adults.

Unique Behavioral Differences

When observing ruby-throated hummingbirds, you’ll notice several unique behavioral differences between males and females. These distinctions help birdwatchers identify and appreciate the fascinating traits of both genders.

Male ruby-throated hummingbirds are known for their territorial behavior. They fiercely protect their feeding areas and will aggressively chase away intruders, including other males and even larger birds. This assertiveness allows them to maintain control over their preferred food sources and establish breeding territories.

On the other hand, female hummingbirds are generally less territorial. They focus more on raising their offspring, building intricate nests made of grasses and plant fibers held together with spider silk. These tiny nests are often the size of a thimble and rest atop a branch, offering a safe and secure environment for the female to lay her eggs and rear her young.

Courtship displays are another noteworthy difference between male and female ruby-throated hummingbirds. Males perform an elaborate aerial display, where they showcase their impressive hovering and acrobatic abilities. They often fly backward and forward, forming a U-shaped pattern in front of the female to attract her attention and impress her with their skill. This ritual is essential to their mating process and helps the females choose the most suitable partner.

In contrast, female ruby-throated hummingbirds don’t participate in these courtship displays. Instead, they stay perched and watch the male’s performance from a safe distance. Once the female approves of a male’s display, she then engages with him for breeding.

By understanding these unique behavioral differences between male and female ruby-throated hummingbirds, you’ll be able to appreciate their distinct roles within their species and the amazing intricacies of their natural behavior. As you continue observing these delightful creatures, you’ll undoubtedly find yourself captivated by their aerial abilities and mesmerizing courtship displays.

Habitat Differences

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are fascinating creatures that live throughout North America, particularly in the eastern United States and eastern North America. These tiny birds, part of the Trochilidae family, are quite adaptable, with thriving populations as far south as Central America, Mexico, and even Panama.

You may observe differences in their habitat preferences between males and females. Generally, both genders can be found in a variety of environments, including forests, clearings, and gardens. However, you might notice the female Ruby-throated hummingbirds more often in your garden as they are attracted to the nectar-rich flowers, which provide a valuable food source for them.

Audubon has noted that these hummingbirds are not only widespread across their range but also quite adaptable when it comes to their habitats. They can be found in all sorts of environments, from dense deciduous and mixed forests to suburban gardens, parks, and yards. They are also known for visiting sugar-water feeders and flower gardens, making them a delightful sight in your backyard.

When it comes to conservation, maintaining these diverse habitats is essential for the survival and prosperity of the Ruby-throated hummingbird populations. By protecting forests and promoting natural habitats like gardens with native plants, you can help ensure the beauty and eco-balance of these tiny birds.

In summary, male and female Ruby-throated hummingbirds are primarily found in eastern regions of North America. They can inhabit diverse environments, illustrating their adaptability. To support their populations, it is crucial to maintain and protect their habitats, whether it is forests, clearings, or even backyard gardens.

Migration Patterns

When it comes to the migration patterns of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, these tiny birds follow an incredible journey across North America. Each year, they travel thousands of miles between their breeding grounds in the north and their wintering grounds in Central and South America.

During spring, you can observe their northward migration, with their arrival times varying depending on the region. For instance, in Louisiana, they arrive around mid-April, while in states like Pennsylvania and Indiana, they appear in late April. Further north in Vermont and Alberta, you can spot these hummingbirds in early and mid-May, respectively 1. These birds rely on the availability of food sources like nectar-producing plants and insects as their source of protein during this journey2.

Fall migration sees Ruby-throated Hummingbirds making their way back to their winter homes. In Pennsylvania, they start their southward journey in late September, while in Ohio and Alabama, you can notice them departing in mid-August and late August to early September, respectively1. High winds and storms, as well as poor fall weather, may delay their flights at times2.

An impressive aspect of their migration is the 500-mile journey across the Gulf of Mexico that some individuals undertake in less than a day3. This feat is even more noteworthy considering that a Ruby-throated Hummingbird weighs just a bit more than a penny3.

You might be curious about the differences between male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds when it comes to migration. In general, males leave earlier and arrive at their destinations noticeably before their female counterparts1. During the breeding season, female and male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can even occupy different habitats3.

By understanding the migration patterns of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, you can appreciate their incredible journey and enjoy spotting them during specific times in different regions across North America.

Diet and Feeding Differences

When it comes to the diet and feeding differences between male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, both sexes primarily feed on nectar from various types of flowers, including over 30 plant species. They have a preference for red, tubular flowers with dilute nectar, which typically have the highest sugar content. When choosing their feeding areas, both male and female hummingbirds can exhibit aggressive behavior to protect their preferred flowers.

While their main source of food is nectar, it’s not the only item on their menu. They also consume small insects and spiders as a source of protein in their regular diet. Having a diet that includes insects and spiders allows them to meet their nutritional needs and support their high metabolism.

In addition to flowers, you can spot both male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds sipping from hummingbird feeders filled with sugar water. These feeders provide them with an additional source of energy, especially when flowers may be scarce in their environment.

Aside from nectar and insects, these birds are also known to eat tree sap. During the time when trees are tapped for sap, such as in maple sugar production, hummingbirds can take advantage of this natural resource to supplement their diet.

When feeding on flowers, both male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds play a crucial role in the pollination process. As they reach into the flowers for nectar, their heads come into contact with the anthers and stigmas of the flowers. This helps transfer pollen from the male part of the flower (the anther) to the female part (the stigma), which then leads to the production of seeds and plant offspring.

In conclusion, both male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have similar diets and feeding habits. They primarily feed on nectar from various flowers but also consume insects, spiders, and sap to meet their dietary requirements and maintain their high metabolism. Their feeding practices also contribute to the ecosystem by aiding in the pollination process.

Nesting and Breeding Differences

When it comes to ruby-throated hummingbirds, there are notable differences between male and female breeding behaviors and nesting habits. Females are usually responsible for constructing their nests, which are made of materials like spider silk, plant fibers, and even lichen source. The use of spider silk allows these nests to expand as the soon-to-be-hatched chicks grow.

Nests are typically built on level or sloping branches, and females often choose a spot in the crook of a V-shaped branch source. These nests can be found anywhere from 10 to 40 feet above the ground and are usually placed in trees or shrubs. Interestingly, ruby-throated hummingbirds tend to return to the same nesting areas year after year source.

As for the breeding process, it begins with the mating ritual. After pairing with a male, the female alone takes charge of incubation. She keeps her eggs warm and safe for about 11 to 16 days source. Once the eggs hatch, the female is responsible for feeding the young by regurgitating an energy-rich slurry of nectar, pollen, and tiny insects she forages between taking care of the nest source.

The appearance of the nestlings changes as they grow, with their feathers becoming more distinct and colorful. After about 20 to 22 days, the young hummingbirds take their first flights source. Female ruby-throated hummingbirds can produce one to two broods each year, and sometimes even three source.

To sum up, the differences between male and female ruby-throated hummingbirds are evident not just in their physical appearance but also in their approach to breeding and nesting. So, next time you spot one of these fascinating birds, you can appreciate the intricate details of their life cycle.

Songs and Calls

When observing the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, you may notice some differences between the male and female regarding their songs and calls. Both genders use vocalizations to communicate, but there are a few variations between the sexes.

As you listen closely, you might hear the male and female Rufous Hummingbird making a rapid series of warning chip notes to alert other birds of their presence or defend their territories. You may also notice that their wings produce a humming sound while they fly, which is common among many hummingbird species, including the Ruby-throated Hummingbird and the broad-tailed.

During the mating season, male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have a unique way of capturing the attention of females. They perform a dive display in which they produce a distinct chu-chu-chu-chu sound at the bottom of their dive. This sound helps to distinguish them from other hummingbird species.

When identifying Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, it’s important to note that females have a more subtle appearance compared to the flashy colors of the males. The females usually have a whitish throat and a rounded tail with white tips on the outer feathers. The males, on the other hand, stand out with their iridescent red throats and grayish-white bellies. By combining the knowledge of their physical features with the understanding of their unique songs and calls, you can confidently differentiate Ruby-throated Hummingbirds from similar species.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do male and female ruby-throated hummingbirds differ in appearance?

Male and female ruby-throated hummingbirds have distinct appearances. Males have a bright, iridescent red throat, while females have a whitish throat. Additionally, males have forked tails, whereas females have rounded tails with white tips on the outer feathers.

What is the main difference in the behavior of male and female ruby-throated hummingbirds?

There are several behavioral differences between male and female ruby-throated hummingbirds. For instance, males are known to be more territorial and aggressive, often chasing away other hummingbirds from their feeding areas. Females, on the other hand, are more focused on building their nests and caring for their offspring.

How can you identify a juvenile male vs female ruby-throated hummingbird?

Identifying juvenile male and female ruby-throated hummingbirds can be tricky, as they both have a similar appearance. However, as they mature, young males may start to show faint red streaks on their throats, indicating the development of their adult plumage. This can help you differentiate between the two.

When do ruby-throated hummingbirds migrate and is there a difference between males and females?

Ruby-throated hummingbirds generally begin their migration in late summer or early fall. Although both males and females migrate, males tend to leave earlier than females. This allows them to establish territories in their wintering grounds before the arrival of females.

What does the call of a ruby-throated hummingbird sound like, and are there variations between the sexes?

The call of a ruby-throated hummingbird is often described as a rapid series of high-pitched, metallic-sounding “chip” or “ticking” notes. While both males and females produce these sounds, there isn’t a significant variation in their calls based on sex.

Why might male ruby-throated hummingbirds be less frequently seen at feeders than females?

Male ruby-throated hummingbirds might be less visible at feeders due to their territorial behavior. As mentioned earlier, males often claim specific feeding areas and will chase away other hummingbirds, including other males. This aggressive behavior might make them less likely to visit feeders when other hummingbirds are present, whereas females are more tolerant and more frequently seen at feeders.


  1. Ruby-throated Hummingbird Migration: A Complete Guide 2 3
  2. Hummingbirds: Migration Pattern – We Love Hummingbirds 2
  3. Do Hummingbirds Migrate? – American Bird Conservancy 2 3

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