Ruby-throated hummingbird and Cardinal flower

It’s always exciting to see a hummingbird. They are incredible, beautiful birds that rarely appear and are gone just as fast. They are the only hummingbird to breed in eastern North America. Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds are known to pollinate over 30 plant species in North America. They feed on nectar and small insects and are effective pollinators. They visit thousands of flowers a day! Without them, many flowers wouldn’t be pollinated.

Many flowers that are pollinated by hummingbirds are red or orange, colors that are more conspicuous to birds. One such flower is the Cardinal Flower, shaped for their long bills and tongues. It is full of nectar for the hummingbird to feast on. In return, the hummingbird pollinates it. It’s a perfect relationship.

However, the usual problems are more extreme for the hummingbirds. Because of their tiny size (and correspondingly small territory) habitat loss can drastically impact our ruby-throated friend. Pesticides are also detrimental to these hummingbirds, as they eat insects. Hummingbirds’ size makes it harder to recover from pesticides than larger species as well, making it difficult. Finally, invasive plants can crowd out necessary native plants that hummingbirds need to feed on. Without hummingbirds, pollinator plants like the cardinal flower will perish. But we can help hummingbirds by planting their favorite flowers, supporting habitat conservation, and reducing pesticide use.

 

Further readings and how to help: