Ruby-throated Hummingbird © Phil Sorrentino

Take 5: Return of the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

Massachusetts’ smallest breeding bird is also one of our most beautiful. As their name describes, male Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds have glossy green feathers above and a stunning red gorget that glitters in the sun like their gemstone namesake. Though females and juveniles lack the bright scarlet throat of the males, they are still easily identified, for this species is the only hummingbird that commonly appears in Massachusetts.

Like tiny, buzzing, flying jewels, hummingbirds are a delight to watch as they dart swiftly from flower to flower in search of the nectar and insects they need to sustain their incredibly high metabolism—so high, in fact, that they must eat their own weight in nectar and insects every day to survive!

To help them meet their high caloric needs (and because they’re just so enjoyable to look at), nectar feeders are a popular addition to backyard and community ecosystems. With hummingbirds returning from their wintering grounds in late April and early May, if you plan on putting out a hummingbird feeder, this is the time to start.

If you’ve seen hummingbirds return to your neighborhood already this spring, let us know! Get answers to some of the most frequently asked hummingbird questions on our website, and enjoy these five gorgeous photos of hummingbirds from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Butterfly Weed © Jason Gilbody
Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Butterfly Weed © Jason Gilbody
Ruby-throated Hummingbird © Phil Sorrentino
Ruby-throated Hummingbird © Phil Sorrentino
Ruby-throated Hummingbird © Linda Lapre
Ruby-throated Hummingbird © Linda Lapre
Ruby-throated Hummingbird © Paul McCarthy
Ruby-throated Hummingbird © Paul McCarthy
Ruby-throated Hummingbird © Nancy Marshall
Ruby-throated Hummingbird © Nancy Marshall

12 thoughts on “Take 5: Return of the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

  1. Alissa

    Just saw my first of the season this morning (May 6) in Weymouth. I’ve had the feeders out for 2 weeks.

    Reply
  2. Laurie Savery

    Hummingbirds were first seen in my yard ion April 28th (Plymouth). The Baltimore Orioles, Catbirds &Towhees have all arrived within the past week. First heard an Ovenbird 2 days ago.
    Eastern Phoebes have been here for over a month. Pine warblers have been singing for over a month, too.

    Reply
  3. Eric Belseth

    Had my first hummingbird of the year show up yesterday, just a couple hours after hanging up the feeder.

    Reply
  4. Dot

    I spied a pair on Sunday, May 2, returning to my feeder several times. I was outside all day Sunday, they may have returned earlier.

    Reply
  5. Patty

    Our hummingbird arrived on May 1st in Blackstone, MA but we have received them as early as April 23rd.

    Reply
  6. Michelle Dellascio

    Groveland Ma had them return on Saturday, May 1, 2021. I missed them , but plenty of people in town spotted them. My female showed up on Sunday, May 2, but did not hang around.

    Reply
  7. Janice

    A male Ruby throated hummingbird has been feeding at our feeder for a good well now. We have two feeders and our neighbors have their two feeders out as well. I have planted many trees, shrubs and perennials to attract pollinators, butterflies and hummingbirds in the hope of attracting more!

    Reply
  8. Paula

    Ruby-throated hummingbirds returned to my feeders here in Paxton, Massachusetts on April 29, 2021….a few days earlier than normal.

    Reply

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