Hummingbirds’ bills are very long and narrow, allowing them to probe far into flower blooms to get the nectar they use for energy. They have extremely long tongues with small bristles at the end to bring back the liquid they drink.
These are the tiniest birds in Eastern North America. The male is iridescent green above and white below with a ruby red gorget, another name for the throat area of hummingbirds. The female is green above and white below with a white throat.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are attracted to nectar-type feeders. To make your own nectar, mix one part sugar to four parts boiling water. Then, put it in the refrigerator to cool before putting it in your feeder. The nectar only lasts two or three days before it starts to go bad, so changing the water and cleaning the feeder is very important. A small pitcher of prepared nectar can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week. There is no need to add red dye or purchase red coloured nectar from the store. The red dye can be dangerous to these birds and is totally unnecessary.
The hummingbird family is mainly a tropical group with only a few species coming north to Canada. The Ruby-throated hummingbird is the only breeding hummingbird in Nova Scotia. These birds usually arrive in Nova Scotia by the first week of May, and depart during the first week of September. Early arrivals sometime race ahead and arrive in April so having nectar available for these travellers is always a good idea once spring arrives.