Teaching Suggestions
Hummingbird Identification
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Observers expand the eyes and ears of scientists when they report their hummingbird sightings. Can your students accurately identify rufous and ruby-throated hummingbirds? This slideshow and activities will build students' observation and identification skills.

Essential Question
How do you identify rufous and
ruby-throated hummingbirds?


Hummingbird Identification

Instructional Activities

Explore Images of Hummingbirds
Have students examine the colors, sizes, shapes, patterns and distinguishing field marks of each hummingbird in the photo gallery. Ask questions to help students focus on details:

  • How are the hummingbirds alike and different?
  • What colors do you see on the beak? wings? crown? tail? throat? breast?
  • What characteristics help identify the different hummingbirds in these photos?

View the Slideshow
Read the slideshow together. Encourage students to share responses to the images and information on each page.

Draw and Describe
Have students make a detailed drawing of a rubythroat or rufous hummingbird using the photos and information from the slideshow. Encourage them to label and describe field marks that are used for identification.

Create a Field Markings Guide
Have students work in small groups to design a poster-style guide that showcases hummingbird field markings. Encourage them to revisit the slideshow to check for complete and accurate information for their guide.

Compare and Contrast
Using a Venn diagram, have students compare and contrast distinguishing characteristics of hummingbirds. Have students write the similarities in the intersecting part of the diagram and list the traits unique to each bird in the outer portions of the diagram. Use questions that explore possible comparisons:

  • How are rufous and ruby-throated hummingbirds alike and different? Size? Color? Field Markings?
  • How are adult and juvenile hummingbirds alike and different? Size? Color? Field Markings?
  • How do male and female ruby-throated hummingbirds compare? Male and female rufous hummingbirds?

gallery of images

Explore Images

draw and describe

Draw and Describe

Venn diagram

Compare and Contrast