The breeding season for the Rufous Hummingbird begins in April and ends in July. The peak of the season usually occurs in May. The male will mate with several females during the breeding season. The male arrives at the desired breeding territory 2 to 3 weeks before the females. He attracts the female by climbing high into the air (20 to 45 m (75 to 150 ft)) then diving toward the female, pulling out of the dive and arcing back up into the sky after bottoming out within 2 or 3 inches of the female. During this mating display his wings are flapping at a rate of 200 wing beats per second, which creates the unique metallical "buzzing" sound heard during these displays. The female signals acceptance of the male as a mate by displaying the white tips of her tail. Copulation lasts only 3 to 5 seconds (Johnsgard 1983; Toops 1992; Chloe 1999).
The female builds her nest in blackberry vines, huckleberry bushes and other well protected overgrowths. Nests are built of mosses, leaves, and lichens woven together with spider webs. Rufous Hummingbirds usually lay two eggs about 1.3 cm (1/2 in) in size. The eggs take anywhere from 12 to 14 days to hatch, and the young leave the nest about 1 week after hatching. The female fiercely defends her nest from predators, while the male plays no role in defending or raising the young. (Johnsgard 1983; Toops 1992; Chloe 1999).
Range time to hatching: 12 to 14 days.
Average fledging age: 7 days.
Average eggs per season: 2.
- Johnsgard, P. 1983. The hummingbirds of North America. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.
- Toops, C. 1992. Hummingbirds: Jewels in Flight. Stillwater, MN: Voyageur Press, Inc.
- Chloe, 1999. "Hummingbirds" (On-line). Accessed August 12, 2000 at http://www.mschloe.com/hummer/huminfo.htm.