banner Hummingbird Home Page Journey North Home Page
Overview: The Annual Cycle of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird
January February March April May June
July August September October November December

November: Changing the Feathers
In November the hummingbirds are molting, a process that may start as early as October. While on the wintering grounds, all Ruby-throated
Hummingbirds are losing and replacing their flight and body feathers, including wing feathers. They will need fresh new feathers before migrating north. Feathers are a bird's most important flight gear. Hummingbirds have fewer feathers than other birds. Even a tiny Ruby-throated Hummingbird has about 940 feathers to keep in order, so it stops flying several times a day to preen. Nectar is sticky so hummers must clean up. Preening helps keep the feathers clean and aligned, making the bird's wings efficient and its body aerodynamic.

Preening Hummingbird

Image: John Doerper