Welcome to the Friends of Great Swamp NWR Website

Our independent, non-profit organization is committed to protecting and supporting Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. The 8,000 acre Refuge, located in Morris County, New Jersey, provides excellent recreational opportunities for visitors as well as protecting valuable habitat for wildlife. Look here for upcoming events, things to do, and ways you can help.

Download the Event Calendar: July-December 2016 (pdf, Adobe Reader required).

Recent Bird Sightings

Click on the Great Swamp NWR link in the top right corner below to go to the eBird website. There you can look at the data in more detail.

See more photos on the
Great Swamp NWR Flickr page.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

Story and photos by Dave Katz
Hummingbird-Dave Katz

Ruby throated hummingbirds are beautiful, feisty, precision-flying machines that bring joy to thousands of people in New Jersey. They are the only species of hummingbird in the eastern part of North America and spend the spring and summer here nesting. In the fall they make the long journey to Central America for the winter.  Most fly across the Gulf of Mexico in an arduous, 500 mile, life or death flight.

hummingbird3-Dave KatzThe Ruby Throat’s control of flight is amazing. They can hover, fly backwards, and for short periods of time, fly upside down. They are also very territorial of their feeding areas and will chase off other hummingbirds. During the mating display, which is a “U” shape pattern, males can reach speeds of over 60 miles per hour. All this make watching hummingbirds a fascinating pursuit.

Hummingbird2-Dave KatzRuby Throats eat insects for protein, including mosquitoes, gnats, and fruit flies. For energy they drink nectar from tubular flowers. You can attract hummingbirds to your home by setting up hummingbird feeders. These contain “nectar” made from 4 parts water and 1 part white granulated sugar. You can also plant flowers such as the native coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) or Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis). Hummingbirds are also attracted to hanging baskets of fuchsia or lantana.

Amazing Ruby Throat Facts
  • Average weight: 1/8 ounce (3.1 g)
  • Body temperature: 105° to 108°F
  • Wing beats: 40-80 per second, average about 52
  • Heart rate: 250 beats/min resting; 1200 beats/min feeding
  • Flight speed: 30 mph (48 kph) normal; 50 mph (80 kph) escape; 63 mph (101 kph) dive
  • At night, during torpor, the bird’s body temperature can drop almost 50 degrees. The heart rate may slow to fewer than 50 beats per minute, and breathing may briefly stop.
  • A hummingbird eats up to one-half of its total body weight in nectar every day. This is the equivalent of a human eating 155,000 calories.
For additional info on Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, a good website is: rubythroat.org.

Previous news stories can be found here.