Comments: Diet includes nectar, insects, and tree sap from sapsucker wells. This species obtains nectar from a wide variety of flowering plant species, (e.g., columbine, scarlet gilia, penstemon, paintbrushes, sage, lilies, larkspurs, heaths, currants, salmonberry, honeysuckles, fireweed, horsemint, toad-flax, snapdragon, bee-flower, and others (Calder 1993). Arrival on southward migration in southern Arizona and New Mexico coincides with blooming and high abundance of Agave spp. (Baltosser 1989).
Experimental manipulation with feeders in successional forest habitat showed that rufous hummingbirds preferred the greatest available sucrose concentrations, ranging from 20 percent to 60 percent, and preferred nectar sources at greater heights (2-3 meters; Blem et al. 1997).
Insects are important sources of fat, protein, and salts; these are obtained by hawking, gleaning, and in tree sap (Calder 1993).