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Discover Nature: Ruby Throated Hummingbirds

A ruby throated hummingbird hovers above a wildflower as it uses its tongue and beak to extract nectar. Hummingbirds can consume in midflight. Watch for peak numbers of these pollinator birds to arrive in Missouri this month as they begin migrating south.

This week on Discover Nature, watch – and listen – for a tiny, feathered pollinator that sings with its wings.


Ruby throated hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) display metallic green feathers on their upper backs, and males sport a ruby red patch at their throat. 


Common across Missouri from April to October, other hummingbirds who nested farther north have already begun their fall migration and are arriving in Missouri – making now a great time to see their numbers peak here. 


As these birds head home for the winter, some will fly nonstop over the Gulf of Mexico to reach destinations as far away as South America. 


Ruby throated hummingbirds are important for many plant species that require a long-billed pollinator for reproduction.  As they hover and hum, with wings beating about 53 times per second, it’s hard to find a bird more delightful and fascinating to watch. 


Learn more about ruby throated hummingbirds with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online Field Guide.


Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Kyle Felling was born in the rugged northwest Missouri hamlet of St. Joseph (where the Pony Express began and Jesse James ended). Inspired from a young age by the spirit of the early settlers who used St. Joseph as an embarkation point in their journey westward, Kyle developed the heart of an explorer and yearned to leave for adventures of his own. Perhaps as a result of attending John Glenn elementary school, young Kyle dreamed of becoming an astronaut, but was disheartened when someone told him that astronauts had to be good at math. He also considered being a tow truck driver, and like the heroes of his favorite childhood television shows (The A-Team and The Incredible Hulk) he saw himself traveling the country, helping people in trouble and getting into wacky adventures. He still harbors that dream.
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