Surprisingly little is known about the migration and stopover biology of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris), and even less is known about their sex- or age-dependent migration. First, we provide basic information on the migration and stopover biology of this species along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico during autumn, including phenology, stopover duration, fuel deposition rate (FDR), arrival mass, and estimated flight ranges. Second, we investigate whether these stopover variables are influenced by age or sex. Age-dependent migration is expected because young, hatch-year birds on their first migration lack the experience of older individuals. Sex-dependent migration is expected because of sexually dimorphic characteristics in wing morphology and body size. We obtained information on arrival mass, phenology, FDR, stopover duration, and estimated flight ranges through banding data, passive integrated transponder tags, radio telemetry, and color marking at a long-term migration station along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Our data provide strong evidence for age-dependent migration and only weak evidence for sex-dependent migration. Older birds arrived earlier, had larger fuel loads, and had shorter stopover durations than younger birds. In younger birds, we found no effect of sex on FDR, arrival mass, stopover duration, or phenology. Older males arrived with larger fuel loads than females. Finally, we used flight simulation software and our data to estimate that males and older birds were capable of longer potential flight ranges than either females or younger birds.
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Vol. 133 • No. 2