Many female hummingbirds look similar, particularly among the hummingbirds of North America. By understanding the clues that distinguish the female ruby-throated hummingbird from her western cousins, however, it is possible to tell different females apart. Watch for these clues for a confident identification:
- Eye: Like the male ruby-throated hummingbird, a white spot is easily visible behind the female's dark eye.
- Cheeks: The auriculars of the female ruby-throated hummingbird are distinctly gray, though the amount of gray coloration can vary. This contrasts well with the pale throat and green head.
- Upperparts: Like the male, the upperparts of the female ruby-throated hummingbird are a shimmery iridescent green. Depending on the light, the feathers may show a yellow or gold hue.
- Bill: The bill of the female ruby-throated hummingbird is long, thin and uniformly black.
- Throat: Unlike the male's colorful throat, the female ruby-throated hummingbird has a plain white chin and throat with only limited, faint gray streaking. The amount of streaking varies, but is generally minimal and may not be noticeable.
- Tail: The female ruby-throated hummingbird has a rounded tail without the sharp points of the male's tail feathers, though they are still somewhat pointed. The outer three tail feathers on each side have white tips, and when perched, the tail is slightly longer than the folded wingtips.
Photo – Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird © Dan Pancamo