far northeastern Minnesota (Lutsen, Cook Co.)
Weighing just over one-tenth of an ounce, the ruby-throated hummingbird is one of North America’s smallest birds. But every fall they embark on a 3,200-mile trip from southern Canada to their wintering grounds in Central America.
In late summer they increase their food intake, storing up energy for their long-distance migration. Early researchers thought such small birds couldn’t possibly cross the Gulf of Mexico, a 500-mile flight over open water. Folk tales even spoke of “hummers” hitchhiking rides on the backs of large birds! Today, scientists believe that some ruby-throated hummingbirds do indeed make such a flight, though most travel through Texas and Mexico rather than across the Gulf.
In the spring, the ruby-throated hummingbirds’ return northward appears to coincide with the flowering of certain key plants along their route.