It's easy to mistake a Ruby-throated Hummingbird for a bee at first glance. Their wings beat 60 to 80 times a second, and like the Mangrove Hummingbird and other hummingbird species, become a blur of motion.
This is the only breeding hummingbird in eastern North America, familiar to many as a backyard visitor. But even those familiar with the bird are often unaware of a threat to the species lurking in every home on the East Coast.
Ruby-throats are frequent victims of collisions with man-made structures such as towers, turbines, and glass windows, particularly during their yearly migrations to and from Central America.
Birds don't see glass as we do. They are often enticed by the reflection of trees and sky, then hit windows at great speed. Frequently, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and other birds—up to one billion each year in the United States—die as a result.
Our Glass Collisions Program is focused entirely on advancing solutions that prevent birds from hitting windows.
One solution is ABC BirdTape, a long-lasting, inexpensive product that can be easily applied to home windows. Another is the development of glass designed so that birds like the ruby-throat can see and avoid the danger.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds migrate as far as Central America, where they can be found wintering on shade coffee farms. Unlike today's typical “sun” coffee farm, which razes all trees but the coffee itself, these traditional farms grow coffee in the shade of native trees. By doing so, they produce superior coffee and provide habitat for dozens of migratory songbirds.
The importance of shade coffee for migratory birds was confirmed by naturalists Kenn and Kim Kaufman, who estimated that a single shade coffee farm in Nicaragua sheltered more than 1,200 migratory bird species—including the Ruby-throated Hummingbird—on just 90 acres.