Common Core: 6th Grade English Language Arts : Reading: Informational Text

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for Common Core: 6th Grade English Language Arts

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

All Common Core: 6th Grade English Language Arts Resources

1 Diagnostic Test 33 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept

Example Questions

← Previous 1 3

Example Question #1 : Reading: Informational Text

"The Ruby-throated Hummingbird"

Geographical Range and Migration

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the sole representative of the hummingbird family in eastern North America. It is only a summer visitor in Canada and throughout the greater part of its range in the United States, excepting the southern portions of the Florida peninsula, where it winters to some extent. The majority of these birds migrate south, though, spending the winter in some of the Caribbean islands, while others pass through eastern Mexico into Central America. It usually arrives along our southern border in the latter part of March, rarely reaching the more northern States before the middle of May. It usually goes south again about the latter part of September, the males preceding the females, I believe, in both migrations. 

 

Appearance and Behavior

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have iridescent green feathers on their backs and white feathers on their bellies. The male birds have a patch of red feathers on their throats, from which the species derives its name. Both male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have relatively short tails and beaks and lack any crest of feathers on their heads.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds’ flight is extremely swift, and the rapid motions of its wings in passing back and forth from one cluster of flowers to another causes a humming or buzzing sound, from which the numerous members of this family derive their name of hummingbirds. Notwithstanding the very small size of most of our hummers, they are all extremely pugnacious, especially the males, and are constantly quarreling and chasing each other, as well as other birds, some of which are many times larger than themselves. Mr. Manly Hardy writes me that he once saw a male Ruby-throat chase a Robin out of his garden. They are rarely seen entirely at rest for any length of time, and, when not busy preening its feathers, they dart about from one place to another. Although such a small, tiny creature, it is full of energy, and never seems to tire.

They seem to be especially partial to anything red. Mr. Manly Hardy writes: "I was once camping on one of the many islands along the coast of Maine during a dense fog, which had held us prisoners for several days, as it was so thick that we could not find our way. We had been living on lobsters, and lots of their red shells lay near the fire in front of our tent, when suddenly a Hummer came out of the fog and darted down at the shells, moving from one to another, seemingly loath to leave them.”

 

What Do They Eat?

There appears to be considerable difference of opinion among various observers regarding the nature of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird’s food. Some contend that it consists principally of nectar sipped from flowers, as well as the sweet sap of certain trees. Others, myself included, believe that they subsist mainly on minute insects and small spiders, the latter forming quite an important article of food with them. Mr. Edwin H. Eames, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, mentions finding sixteen young spiders of uniform size in the throat of a young Hummingbird which was about two days old.

Mr. W. N. Clute, of Binghamton, New York, writes: "The swamp thistle, which blooms in August, seems to have great attractions for the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. I have seen more than a hundred birds about these plants in the course of an hour. Since it has been stated that the bee gets pollen but not honey from the thistle, it would appear that these birds visit these flowers for insects. There is scarcely a flower that contains so many minute insects as a thistle head. Examine one with a lens and it will be found to contain many insects that can hardly be seen with the unaided eye, and if the Ruby-throat eats insects at all, these are the ones it would take; and because the larger ones remained the observer might conclude that none were eaten.” I could quote considerable more testimony showing that the Hummingbirds live to a great extent on minute spiders and insects, but consider it unnecessary.

That our Hummingbirds live to some extent on the sap of certain trees is undoubtedly true, but that they could exist for any length of time on such food alone is very questionable. They are particularly fond of the sap of the sugar maple, and only slightly less so of that of a few other species of trees. They are also fond of the nectar secreted in many flowers. While stationed at the former cavalry depot at St. Louis, Missouri, in 1873-74, I occupied a set of quarters that were completely overrun with large trumpet vines. When these were in bloom, the place fairly swarmed with Ruby-throats. They were exceedingly inquisitive, and often poised themselves before an open window and looked in my rooms full of curiosity, their bright little eyes sparkling like black beads. I have caught several, while busily engaged sipping nectar in these large, showy flowers, by simply placing my hand over them, and while so imprisoned they never moved, and feigned death, but as soon as I opened my hand they were off like a flash. 

 

07627v

 

Passage adapted from "Ruby-throated Hummingbird" from Issue 3 of Life Histories of North American Birds, From the Parrots to the Grackles, with Special Reference to Their Breeding Habits and Eggs by Charles Bendire (1895)

Image adapted from Giltsch, Adolf, Lithographer, and Ernst Haeckel. Trochilidae. - Kolibris. [Leipzig und Wien: Verlag des Bibliographischen Instituts, 1904] Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/2015648985>.

 

Which of the following can we infer from the section “Appearance and Behavior”?

Possible Answers:

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds actually rest for most of the day, just in places that are difficult for humans to observe.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird will never annoy or attack squirrels.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is smaller than a Robin.

Hummingbirds don’t actually cause the “humming” sound for which they are named—nearby bees do.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the smallest species of Hummingbird.

Correct answer:

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is smaller than a Robin.

Explanation:

The paragraphs found in the "Appearance and Behavior" section focus on different topics. The first one describes the appearance of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds; the second focuses on a description of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds' behavior; and the third states that they like the color red and supports this with evidence. Knowing this, let's look at each of the answer choices to figure out which one is true based on what the passage states in this section.

"The Ruby-throated Hummingbird will never annoy or attack squirrels." - While this section tells us that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will attack each other and larger birds, it says nothing about squirrels. This answer is incorrect because it involves too much of a logical leap; the passage doesn't mention squirrels at all, so we can't assume anything about how Ruby-throated Hummingbirds would behave toward squirrels. (Furthermore, we're told that they will attack larger birds, so if anything, we might think that they would attack squirrels, which is the opposite of what the answer choice states.)

"Ruby-throated Hummingbirds do often rest, just in places that are difficult for humans to observe." The second paragraph says that Ruby-throated hummingbirds "are rarely seen entirely at rest for any length of time, and, when not busy preening its feathers, they dart about from one place to another." Nothing in the passage supports the assertion that these birds rest "for most of the day," so this isn't the correct answer.

"Hummingbirds don’t actually cause the “humming” sound for which they are named—nearby bees do." - This answer choice is not correct. The second paragraph in the section "the rapid motions of its wings in passing back and forth from one cluster of flowers to another causes a humming or buzzing sound, from which the numerous members of this family derive their name of hummingbirds"

"The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the smallest species of Hummingbird." - The "Appearance and Behavior" section of the passage states that the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is "a small, tiny creature" and that "Notwithstanding the very small size of most of our hummers, they are all extremely pugnacious." Based on these statements, we cannot assume that the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the smallest species of Hummingbird. We're only told that it is small, not the smallest.

"The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is smaller than a Robin." - This is the correct answer. The "Appearance and Behavior" section of the passage states, "Notwithstanding the very small size of most of our hummers, they are all extremely pugnacious, especially the males, and are constantly quarreling and chasing each other, as well as other birds, some of which are many times larger than themselves. Mr. Manly Hardy writes me that he once saw a male Ruby-throat chase a Robin out of his garden." Let's analyze this: the passage tells us that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will chase birds many times larger than they are. The passage then immediately relates evidence about someone seeing "a male Ruby-throat chase a Robin out of his garden." The passage presents this as relevant evidence because it expects the reader to infer that a Robin is bigger than a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. If not, the statement's position immediately after the claim that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will chase birds much larger than they are wouldn't make much sense.

 

Example Question #2 : Cite Evidence To Support Textual Analysis And Inferences: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.6.1

Adapted from “In Cowboy Land” in An Autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt (1913)

Though I had previously made a trip into the then Territory of Dakota, beyond the Red River, it was not until 1883 that I went to the Little Missouri, and there took hold of two cattle ranches, the Chimney Butte and the Elkhorn.

It was still the Wild West in those days, the Far West, the West of Owen Wister's stories and Frederic Remington's drawings. That land of the West has gone now, "gone, gone with lost Atlantis," gone to the isle of ghosts and of strange dead memories. It was a land of vast silent spaces, of lonely rivers, and of plains where the wild game stared at the passing horseman. It was a land of scattered ranches, of herds of long-horned cattle, and of reckless riders who unmoved looked in the eyes of life or of death. In that land we led a free and hardy life, with horse and with rifle. We knew toil and hardship and hunger and thirst; and we saw men die violent deaths as they worked among the horses and cattle, or fought in evil feuds with one another; but we felt the beat of hardy life in our veins, and ours was the glory of work and the joy of living.

I first reached the Little Missouri on a Northern Pacific train about three in the morning of a cool September day in 1883. Next day I walked over to the abandoned army post, and, after some hours among the gray log shacks, a ranchman who had driven into the station agreed to take me out to his ranch, the Chimney Butte ranch, where he was living with his brother and their partner.

The ranch was a log structure with a dirt roof, a corral for the horses near by, and a chicken-house jabbed against the rear of the ranch house. Inside there was only one room, with a table, three or four chairs, a cooking-stove, and three bunks. The owners were Sylvane and Joe Ferris and William J. Merrifield. There was a fourth man, George Meyer, who also worked for me later. That evening we all played old sledge round the table, and at one period the game was interrupted by a frightful squawking outside which told us that a bobcat had made a raid on the chicken-house.

After a buffalo hunt with my original friend, Joe Ferris, I entered into partnership with Merrifield and Sylvane Ferris, and we started a cow ranch, with the maltese cross brand—always known as "maltee cross," by the way, as the general impression along the Little Missouri was that "maltese" must be a plural. Twenty-nine years later my four friends of that night were delegates to the First Progressive National Convention at Chicago. They were among my most constant companions for the few years next succeeding the evening when the bobcat interrupted the game of old sledge. I lived and worked with them on the ranch, and with them and many others like them on the round-up.

I do not believe there ever was any life more attractive to a vigorous young fellow than life on a cattle ranch in those days. It was a fine, healthy life, too; it taught a man self-reliance, hardihood, and the value of instant decision—in short, the virtues that ought to come from life in the open country. I enjoyed the life to the full.

What can we infer from the underlined sentences?

Possible Answers:

Owen Wister wrote stories about the Wild West.

At the time Roosevelt was writing, the West was exactly like it was when he was living there.

Frederic Remindton’s drawings of the west reflect the area after it developed after its “Wild West” period.

Roosevelt thinks that Atlantis was a real city that once existed.

Roosevelt never uses poetic or figurative language in his writing.

Correct answer:

Owen Wister wrote stories about the Wild West.

Explanation:

The underlined sentences are these:

It was still the Wild West in those days, the Far West, the West of Owen Wister's stories and Frederic Remington's drawings. That land of the West has gone now, "gone, gone with lost Atlantis," gone to the isle of ghosts and of strange dead memories.

Here, Roosevelt is talking about the West in the era during which he lived there. He is describing it as "the Wild West." He uses notably poetic language to describe it and also says it was "the West of Owen Wister's stories and Frederic Remington's drawings." 

From this excerpt, we can tell that "Roosevelt never uses poetic or figurative language in his writing" is incorrect, since Roosevelt uses poetic and figurative language in this excerpt. Furthermore, since "gone, gone with lost Atlantis" is a poetic, figurative phrase, it doesn't tell us that Roosevelt thinks that Atlantis was a real city that once existed. The excerpt suggests that Remington's drawings are associated with the "Wild West," not the period that followed this, so "Frederic Remington’s drawings of the west reflect the area after it developed after its 'Wild West' period" is also incorrect.

This leaves us to decide between two answer choices: "At the time Roosevelt was writing, the West was exactly like it was when he was living there," and "Owen Wister wrote stories about the Wild West." Consider how Roosevelt introduces the idea of the Wild West: "It was still the Wild West in those days" (italics added). At the time Roosevelt is writing the excerpt, it is no longer the Wild West, or he wouldn't be using past tense in this way. The correct answer must be "Owen Wister wrote stories about the Wild West." This is suggested by the excerpt because Roosevelt lists "the Wild West" and "the West of Owen Wister's stories" in parallel to convey to readers that they are describing the same thing.

Example Question #21 : Common Core: 6th Grade English Language Arts

"The Ruby-throated Hummingbird"

Geographical Range and Migration

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the sole representative of the hummingbird family in eastern North America. It is only a summer visitor in Canada and throughout the greater part of its range in the United States, excepting the southern portions of the Florida peninsula, where it winters to some extent. The majority of these birds migrate south, though, spending the winter in some of the Caribbean islands, while others pass through eastern Mexico into Central America. It usually arrives along our southern border in the latter part of March, rarely reaching the more northern States before the middle of May. It usually goes south again about the latter part of September, the males preceding the females, I believe, in both migrations. 

 

Appearance and Behavior

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have iridescent green feathers on their backs and white feathers on their bellies. The male birds have a patch of red feathers on their throats, from which the species derives its name. Both male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have relatively short tails and beaks and lack any crest of feathers on their heads.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds’ flight is extremely swift, and the rapid motions of its wings in passing back and forth from one cluster of flowers to another causes a humming or buzzing sound, from which the numerous members of this family derive their name of hummingbirds. Notwithstanding the very small size of most of our hummers, they are all extremely pugnacious, especially the males, and are constantly quarreling and chasing each other, as well as other birds, some of which are many times larger than themselves. Mr. Manly Hardy writes me that he once saw a male Ruby-throat chase a Robin out of his garden. They are rarely seen entirely at rest for any length of time, and, when not busy preening its feathers, they dart about from one place to another. Although such a small, tiny creature, it is full of energy, and never seems to tire.

They seem to be especially partial to anything red. Mr. Manly Hardy writes: "I was once camping on one of the many islands along the coast of Maine during a dense fog, which had held us prisoners for several days, as it was so thick that we could not find our way. We had been living on lobsters, and lots of their red shells lay near the fire in front of our tent, when suddenly a Hummer came out of the fog and darted down at the shells, moving from one to another, seemingly loath to leave them.”

 

What Do They Eat?

There appears to be considerable difference of opinion among various observers regarding the nature of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird’s food. Some contend that it consists principally of nectar sipped from flowers, as well as the sweet sap of certain trees. Others, myself included, believe that they subsist mainly on minute insects and small spiders, the latter forming quite an important article of food with them. Mr. Edwin H. Eames, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, mentions finding sixteen young spiders of uniform size in the throat of a young Hummingbird which was about two days old.

Mr. W. N. Clute, of Binghamton, New York, writes: "The swamp thistle, which blooms in August, seems to have great attractions for the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. I have seen more than a hundred birds about these plants in the course of an hour. Since it has been stated that the bee gets pollen but not honey from the thistle, it would appear that these birds visit these flowers for insects. There is scarcely a flower that contains so many minute insects as a thistle head. Examine one with a lens and it will be found to contain many insects that can hardly be seen with the unaided eye, and if the Ruby-throat eats insects at all, these are the ones it would take; and because the larger ones remained the observer might conclude that none were eaten.” I could quote considerable more testimony showing that the Hummingbirds live to a great extent on minute spiders and insects, but consider it unnecessary.

That our Hummingbirds live to some extent on the sap of certain trees is undoubtedly true, but that they could exist for any length of time on such food alone is very questionable. They are particularly fond of the sap of the sugar maple, and only slightly less so of that of a few other species of trees. They are also fond of the nectar secreted in many flowers. While stationed at the former cavalry depot at St. Louis, Missouri, in 1873-74, I occupied a set of quarters that were completely overrun with large trumpet vines. When these were in bloom, the place fairly swarmed with Ruby-throats. They were exceedingly inquisitive, and often poised themselves before an open window and looked in my rooms full of curiosity, their bright little eyes sparkling like black beads. I have caught several, while busily engaged sipping nectar in these large, showy flowers, by simply placing my hand over them, and while so imprisoned they never moved, and feigned death, but as soon as I opened my hand they were off like a flash. 

 

07627v

 

Passage adapted from "Ruby-throated Hummingbird" from Issue 3 of Life Histories of North American Birds, From the Parrots to the Grackles, with Special Reference to Their Breeding Habits and Eggs by Charles Bendire (1895)

Image adapted from Giltsch, Adolf, Lithographer, and Ernst Haeckel. Trochilidae. - Kolibris. [Leipzig und Wien: Verlag des Bibliographischen Instituts, 1904] Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/2015648985>.

 

Which of the following best describes the passage?

Possible Answers:

A general description of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

A comparison of several different types of Hummingbirds

An argumentative essay about why the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is endangered and should be conserved

A description of the author’s firsthand experience of interacting with Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

Instructions on how to attract Hummingbirds to a garden

Correct answer:

A general description of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

Explanation:

The passage is titled "The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird," and it consists of three labeled sections: "Geographical Range and Migration," "Appearance and Behavior," and "What Do They Eat?" The passage only mentions one type of hummingbird, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, so the correct answer cannot be that its purpose is to compare different types of hummingbirds. While the author relates evidence that involves observing Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in a garden and describes seeing them feed from flowers, the point of the passage is not to provide "instructions on how to attract Hummingbirds to a garden." While the author does provide some firsthand evidence (in the last paragraph), the majority of the passage does not consist of this, so the correct answer is not "a description of the author’s firsthand experience of interacting with Ruby-throated Hummingbirds." Finally, there is no mention about whether the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is endangered, and the author does not argue that it should be conserved. The passage is best described as "a general description of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds." You can arrive at this answer either by considering the title of the passage and the titles of its major sections, or by eliminating the incorrect answer choices.

Example Question #1 : Reading: Informational Text

Adapted from “In Cowboy Land” in An Autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt (1913)

Though I had previously made a trip into the then Territory of Dakota, beyond the Red River, it was not until 1883 that I went to the Little Missouri, and there took hold of two cattle ranches, the Chimney Butte and the Elkhorn.

It was still the Wild West in those days, the Far West, the West of Owen Wister's stories and Frederic Remington's drawings. That land of the West has gone now, "gone, gone with lost Atlantis," gone to the isle of ghosts and of strange dead memories. It was a land of vast silent spaces, of lonely rivers, and of plains where the wild game stared at the passing horseman. It was a land of scattered ranches, of herds of long-horned cattle, and of reckless riders who unmoved looked in the eyes of life or of death. In that land we led a free and hardy life, with horse and with rifle. We knew toil and hardship and hunger and thirst; and we saw men die violent deaths as they worked among the horses and cattle, or fought in evil feuds with one another; but we felt the beat of hardy life in our veins, and ours was the glory of work and the joy of living.

I first reached the Little Missouri on a Northern Pacific train about three in the morning of a cool September day in 1883. Next day I walked over to the abandoned army post, and, after some hours among the gray log shacks, a ranchman who had driven into the station agreed to take me out to his ranch, the Chimney Butte ranch, where he was living with his brother and their partner.

The ranch was a log structure with a dirt roof, a corral for the horses near by, and a chicken-house jabbed against the rear of the ranch house. Inside there was only one room, with a table, three or four chairs, a cooking-stove, and three bunks. The owners were Sylvane and Joe Ferris and William J. Merrifield. There was a fourth man, George Meyer, who also worked for me later. That evening we all played old sledge round the table, and at one period the game was interrupted by a frightful squawking outside which told us that a bobcat had made a raid on the chicken-house.

After a buffalo hunt with my original friend, Joe Ferris, I entered into partnership with Merrifield and Sylvane Ferris, and we started a cow ranch, with the maltese cross brand—always known as "maltee cross," by the way, as the general impression along the Little Missouri was that "maltese" must be a plural. Twenty-nine years later my four friends of that night were delegates to the First Progressive National Convention at Chicago. They were among my most constant companions for the few years next succeeding the evening when the bobcat interrupted the game of old sledge. I lived and worked with them on the ranch, and with them and many others like them on the round-up.

I do not believe there ever was any life more attractive to a vigorous young fellow than life on a cattle ranch in those days. It was a fine, healthy life, too; it taught a man self-reliance, hardihood, and the value of instant decision—in short, the virtues that ought to come from life in the open country. I enjoyed the life to the full.

In this passage, Roosevelt __________.

Possible Answers:

discusses how he came to be the President of the United States

describes the western U.S. and his time spent living there

argues that the reader should move to the western U.S.

explains why his political opponents are wrong about a certain issue

lists ways in which he helped preserve the environment as President

Correct answer:

describes the western U.S. and his time spent living there

Explanation:

What does this passage discuss? In the first paragraph, Roosevelt talks about his travels in the West. In the second paragraph, he describes the West of that era as the "Wild West" in poetic terms. Then, he switches to narrating his first few days in the area, describing the ranch at which he stayed and worked, and talking about what he eventually did in the West (investing in a cattle ranch). He concludes by talking about how he really enjoyed the western lifestyle.

Roosevelt never mentions his political opponents, so "explains why his political opponents are wrong about a certain issue" cannot be correct. He never talks about his time as President and he doesn't talk about ways in which he helped preserve the environment, so neither "lists ways in which he helped preserve the environment as President" nor "discusses how he came to be the President of the United States" are correct, either. While he does talk about the West, this is a descriptive passage, not an argumentative one, so "argues that the reader should move to the western U.S." is not correct. The correct answer is that Roosevelt "describes the western U.S. and his time spent living there." This reflects the descriptive nature of the passage and the focus of its content.

Example Question #3 : Reading: Informational Text

"The Ruby-throated Hummingbird"

Geographical Range and Migration

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the sole representative of the hummingbird family in eastern North America. It is only a summer visitor in Canada and throughout the greater part of its range in the United States, excepting the southern portions of the Florida peninsula, where it winters to some extent. The majority of these birds migrate south, though, spending the winter in some of the Caribbean islands, while others pass through eastern Mexico into Central America. It usually arrives along our southern border in the latter part of March, rarely reaching the more northern States before the middle of May. It usually goes south again about the latter part of September, the males preceding the females, I believe, in both migrations. 

 

Appearance and Behavior

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have iridescent green feathers on their backs and white feathers on their bellies. The male birds have a patch of red feathers on their throats, from which the species derives its name. Both male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have relatively short tails and beaks and lack any crest of feathers on their heads.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds’ flight is extremely swift, and the rapid motions of its wings in passing back and forth from one cluster of flowers to another causes a humming or buzzing sound, from which the numerous members of this family derive their name of hummingbirds. Notwithstanding the very small size of most of our hummers, they are all extremely pugnacious, especially the males, and are constantly quarreling and chasing each other, as well as other birds, some of which are many times larger than themselves. Mr. Manly Hardy writes me that he once saw a male Ruby-throat chase a Robin out of his garden. They are rarely seen entirely at rest for any length of time, and, when not busy preening its feathers, they dart about from one place to another. Although such a small, tiny creature, it is full of energy, and never seems to tire.

They seem to be especially partial to anything red. Mr. Manly Hardy writes: "I was once camping on one of the many islands along the coast of Maine during a dense fog, which had held us prisoners for several days, as it was so thick that we could not find our way. We had been living on lobsters, and lots of their red shells lay near the fire in front of our tent, when suddenly a Hummer came out of the fog and darted down at the shells, moving from one to another, seemingly loath to leave them.”

 

What Do They Eat?

There appears to be considerable difference of opinion among various observers regarding the nature of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird’s food. Some contend that it consists principally of nectar sipped from flowers, as well as the sweet sap of certain trees. Others, myself included, believe that they subsist mainly on minute insects and small spiders, the latter forming quite an important article of food with them. Mr. Edwin H. Eames, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, mentions finding sixteen young spiders of uniform size in the throat of a young Hummingbird which was about two days old.

Mr. W. N. Clute, of Binghamton, New York, writes: "The swamp thistle, which blooms in August, seems to have great attractions for the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. I have seen more than a hundred birds about these plants in the course of an hour. Since it has been stated that the bee gets pollen but not honey from the thistle, it would appear that these birds visit these flowers for insects. There is scarcely a flower that contains so many minute insects as a thistle head. Examine one with a lens and it will be found to contain many insects that can hardly be seen with the unaided eye, and if the Ruby-throat eats insects at all, these are the ones it would take; and because the larger ones remained the observer might conclude that none were eaten.” I could quote considerable more testimony showing that the Hummingbirds live to a great extent on minute spiders and insects, but consider it unnecessary.

That our Hummingbirds live to some extent on the sap of certain trees is undoubtedly true, but that they could exist for any length of time on such food alone is very questionable. They are particularly fond of the sap of the sugar maple, and only slightly less so of that of a few other species of trees. They are also fond of the nectar secreted in many flowers. While stationed at the former cavalry depot at St. Louis, Missouri, in 1873-74, I occupied a set of quarters that were completely overrun with large trumpet vines. When these were in bloom, the place fairly swarmed with Ruby-throats. They were exceedingly inquisitive, and often poised themselves before an open window and looked in my rooms full of curiosity, their bright little eyes sparkling like black beads. I have caught several, while busily engaged sipping nectar in these large, showy flowers, by simply placing my hand over them, and while so imprisoned they never moved, and feigned death, but as soon as I opened my hand they were off like a flash. 

 

07627v

 

Passage adapted from "Ruby-throated Hummingbird" from Issue 3 of Life Histories of North American Birds, From the Parrots to the Grackles, with Special Reference to Their Breeding Habits and Eggs by Charles Bendire (1895)

Image adapted from Giltsch, Adolf, Lithographer, and Ernst Haeckel. Trochilidae. - Kolibris. [Leipzig und Wien: Verlag des Bibliographischen Instituts, 1904] Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/2015648985>.

 

Which of the following is an accurate statement about the passage?

Possible Answers:

It uses numerical data to support its claims.

It uses both the author’s direct observations and indirect evidence gathered from other people to support its claims.

It uses only indirect evidence gathered from other people to support its claims.

It uses only the author’s firsthand experience with birds to support its claims.

It draws its evidence only from scientists who study hummingbirds.

Correct answer:

It uses both the author’s direct observations and indirect evidence gathered from other people to support its claims.

Explanation:

To answer this question correctly, let's consider what types of information mentioned in the answer choices appear in the passage. Remember, you have to be able to point to a part of the passage to prove your answers!

Does the passage use numerical data? It does not. Nowhere in the passage is evidence presented in the form of numbers or statistics. 

Does the passage use evidence only from scientists who study hummingbirds? It does not. The author never says that his evidence is being taken from scientists; he just introduces anecdotes he has gathered from other people. We're not told that these people are scientists.

Does the passage use the author's direct observations to support its claims? Yes, it does! In the last paragraph, the author provides a firsthand account of watching Ruby-throated Hummingbirds feeding at flowers near his window. He uses this as evidence that these hummingbirds like flower nectar.

Does the passage use indirect evidence gathered from other people? Yes! Several times in the passage, the author quotes other people who have observed hummingbirds and uses their observations as evidence. The story about the lobster shells in the last paragraph of "Appearance and Behavior" is one of these indirect observations, as is most of the second paragraph of the "What Do They Eat?" section.

Based on these conclusions, the correct answer is that the passage "uses both the author’s direct observations and indirect evidence gathered from other people to support its claims."

Example Question #1 : Analyze How A Text Discusses A Key Individual, Event, Or Topic: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.6.3

Adapted from “In Cowboy Land” in An Autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt (1913)

Though I had previously made a trip into the then Territory of Dakota, beyond the Red River, it was not until 1883 that I went to the Little Missouri, and there took hold of two cattle ranches, the Chimney Butte and the Elkhorn.

It was still the Wild West in those days, the Far West, the West of Owen Wister's stories and Frederic Remington's drawings. That land of the West has gone now, "gone, gone with lost Atlantis," gone to the isle of ghosts and of strange dead memories. It was a land of vast silent spaces, of lonely rivers, and of plains where the wild game stared at the passing horseman. It was a land of scattered ranches, of herds of long-horned cattle, and of reckless riders who unmoved looked in the eyes of life or of death. In that land we led a free and hardy life, with horse and with rifle. We knew toil and hardship and hunger and thirst; and we saw men die violent deaths as they worked among the horses and cattle, or fought in evil feuds with one another; but we felt the beat of hardy life in our veins, and ours was the glory of work and the joy of living.

I first reached the Little Missouri on a Northern Pacific train about three in the morning of a cool September day in 1883. Next day I walked over to the abandoned army post, and, after some hours among the gray log shacks, a ranchman who had driven into the station agreed to take me out to his ranch, the Chimney Butte ranch, where he was living with his brother and their partner.

The ranch was a log structure with a dirt roof, a corral for the horses near by, and a chicken-house jabbed against the rear of the ranch house. Inside there was only one room, with a table, three or four chairs, a cooking-stove, and three bunks. The owners were Sylvane and Joe Ferris and William J. Merrifield. There was a fourth man, George Meyer, who also worked for me later. That evening we all played old sledge round the table, and at one period the game was interrupted by a frightful squawking outside which told us that a bobcat had made a raid on the chicken-house.

After a buffalo hunt with my original friend, Joe Ferris, I entered into partnership with Merrifield and Sylvane Ferris, and we started a cow ranch, with the maltese cross brand—always known as "maltee cross," by the way, as the general impression along the Little Missouri was that "maltese" must be a plural. Twenty-nine years later my four friends of that night were delegates to the First Progressive National Convention at Chicago. They were among my most constant companions for the few years next succeeding the evening when the bobcat interrupted the game of old sledge. I lived and worked with them on the ranch, and with them and many others like them on the round-up.

I do not believe there ever was any life more attractive to a vigorous young fellow than life on a cattle ranch in those days. It was a fine, healthy life, too; it taught a man self-reliance, hardihood, and the value of instant decision—in short, the virtues that ought to come from life in the open country. I enjoyed the life to the full.

Which of the following best describes how Roosevelt discusses the West in the passage?

Possible Answers:

He describes the ranch in which he lived in the West before describing the idea of the “Wild West” in general, poetic terms.

He explains why he wanted to purchase a cattle ranch, then describes what he learned from his time living in the West. Finally, he describes his first few days living in the West.

After describing in detail the specific breed of cattle his ranch raised, he provides a general description of the “Wild West,” and then reflects on what his experiences in the West taught him.

After reflecting on what his experiences in the West taught him, he provides a general description of the “Wild West” and then begins narrating his first few days living in the West.

After a general, poetic introduction, he tells the story of his first days in the West. Then, he reflects on what his time in the West taught him.

Correct answer:

After a general, poetic introduction, he tells the story of his first days in the West. Then, he reflects on what his time in the West taught him.

Explanation:

Let's characterize each of the paragraphs contained in this passage. By doing this, we can get an idea of the general topics the passage discusses, and the order in which it discusses them.

Paragraph 1: General information about Roosevelt's travels to the West.

Paragraph 2: A long, literary description of the West as it was in that era, the "Wild West."

Paragraph 3: Chronological narrative of Roosevelt's first few days in the West.

Paragraph 4: Description of the ranch, more chronological narration of Roosevelt's first few days in the West

Paragraph 5: More chronological narrative about what Roosevelt did in the West

Paragraph 6: Reflection about how Roosevelt liked the western lifestyle and what living there taught him

Now let's consider the answer choices and see which ones can't be true.

"He explains why he wanted to purchase a cattle ranch, then describes what he learned from his time living in the West. Finally, he describes his first few days living in the West." - This answer choice is incorrect. Nowhere in the passage does Roosevelt explain his motivations behind investing in a cattle ranch. Plus, he describes his first few days living in the west before describing what he learned from living there.

"After describing in detail the specific breed of cattle his ranch raised, he provides a general description of the “Wild West,” and then reflects on what his experiences in the West taught him." - Roosevelt never describes in detail the specific breed of cattle his ranch raised, so this answer choice is incorrect.

"After reflecting on what his experiences in the West taught him, he provides a general description of the “Wild West” and then begins narrating his first few days living in the West." - Roosevelt only talks about what his experiences taught him at the end of the passage, after describing the 'Wild West' and narrating his first few days there. This answer choices is out of order, so it is also incorrect.

 "He describes the ranch in which he lived in the West before describing the idea of the 'Wild West' in general, poetic terms." - Roosevelt describes the idea of the "Wild West" before describing the ranch in which he lived, so this answer choice is incorrect because it is in the wrong order as well.

"After a general, poetic introduction, he tells the story of his first days in the West. Then, he reflects on what his time in the West taught him." - This is the correct answer. The passage includes a general, poetic introduction near its start (Paragraph 2). Then, Roosevelt tells the story of his first days in the West (Paragraphs 3–4). After that, he reflects on what his time in the West taught him (Paragraph 6).

Example Question #4 : Reading: Informational Text

"The Ruby-throated Hummingbird"

Geographical Range and Migration

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the sole representative of the hummingbird family in eastern North America. It is only a summer visitor in Canada and throughout the greater part of its range in the United States, excepting the southern portions of the Florida peninsula, where it winters to some extent. The majority of these birds migrate south, though, spending the winter in some of the Caribbean islands, while others pass through eastern Mexico into Central America. It usually arrives along our southern border in the latter part of March, rarely reaching the more northern States before the middle of May. It usually goes south again about the latter part of September, the males preceding the females, I believe, in both migrations. 

 

Appearance and Behavior

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have iridescent green feathers on their backs and white feathers on their bellies. The male birds have a patch of red feathers on their throats, from which the species derives its name. Both male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have relatively short tails and beaks and lack any crest of feathers on their heads.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds’ flight is extremely swift, and the rapid motions of its wings in passing back and forth from one cluster of flowers to another causes a humming or buzzing sound, from which the numerous members of this family derive their name of hummingbirds. Notwithstanding the very small size of most of our hummers, they are all extremely pugnacious, especially the males, and are constantly quarreling and chasing each other, as well as other birds, some of which are many times larger than themselves. Mr. Manly Hardy writes me that he once saw a male Ruby-throat chase a Robin out of his garden. They are rarely seen entirely at rest for any length of time, and, when not busy preening its feathers, they dart about from one place to another. Although such a small, tiny creature, it is full of energy, and never seems to tire.

They seem to be especially partial to anything red. Mr. Manly Hardy writes: "I was once camping on one of the many islands along the coast of Maine during a dense fog, which had held us prisoners for several days, as it was so thick that we could not find our way. We had been living on lobsters, and lots of their red shells lay near the fire in front of our tent, when suddenly a Hummer came out of the fog and darted down at the shells, moving from one to another, seemingly loath to leave them.”

 

What Do They Eat?

There appears to be considerable difference of opinion among various observers regarding the nature of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird’s food. Some contend that it consists principally of nectar sipped from flowers, as well as the sweet sap of certain trees. Others, myself included, believe that they subsist mainly on minute insects and small spiders, the latter forming quite an important article of food with them. Mr. Edwin H. Eames, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, mentions finding sixteen young spiders of uniform size in the throat of a young Hummingbird which was about two days old.

Mr. W. N. Clute, of Binghamton, New York, writes: "The swamp thistle, which blooms in August, seems to have great attractions for the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. I have seen more than a hundred birds about these plants in the course of an hour. Since it has been stated that the bee gets pollen but not honey from the thistle, it would appear that these birds visit these flowers for insects. There is scarcely a flower that contains so many minute insects as a thistle head. Examine one with a lens and it will be found to contain many insects that can hardly be seen with the unaided eye, and if the Ruby-throat eats insects at all, these are the ones it would take; and because the larger ones remained the observer might conclude that none were eaten.” I could quote considerable more testimony showing that the Hummingbirds live to a great extent on minute spiders and insects, but consider it unnecessary.

That our Hummingbirds live to some extent on the sap of certain trees is undoubtedly true, but that they could exist for any length of time on such food alone is very questionable. They are particularly fond of the sap of the sugar maple, and only slightly less so of that of a few other species of trees. They are also fond of the nectar secreted in many flowers. While stationed at the former cavalry depot at St. Louis, Missouri, in 1873-74, I occupied a set of quarters that were completely overrun with large trumpet vines. When these were in bloom, the place fairly swarmed with Ruby-throats. They were exceedingly inquisitive, and often poised themselves before an open window and looked in my rooms full of curiosity, their bright little eyes sparkling like black beads. I have caught several, while busily engaged sipping nectar in these large, showy flowers, by simply placing my hand over them, and while so imprisoned they never moved, and feigned death, but as soon as I opened my hand they were off like a flash. 

 

07627v

 

Passage adapted from "Ruby-throated Hummingbird" from Issue 3 of Life Histories of North American Birds, From the Parrots to the Grackles, with Special Reference to Their Breeding Habits and Eggs by Charles Bendire (1895)

Image adapted from Giltsch, Adolf, Lithographer, and Ernst Haeckel. Trochilidae. - Kolibris. [Leipzig und Wien: Verlag des Bibliographischen Instituts, 1904] Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/2015648985>.

 

Based on the way the word is used in the section “Appearance and Behavior,” which of the following must be closest in meaning to the underlined word “pugnacious”?

Possible Answers:

Playful and lighthearted

Angry and combative

Patient and calm

Very hungry

Minuscule

Correct answer:

Angry and combative

Explanation:

Let's take a look at the spot in the passage where this word is used to get a better idea of what it means. We'll use the "context" in which the word is used to figure this out—that is, the information conveyed by the words and sentences around it.

Notwithstanding the very small size of most of our hummers, they are all extremely pugnacious, especially the males, and are constantly quarreling and chasing each other, as well as other birds, some of which are many times larger than themselves.

Let's figure out what this sentence means one phrase at a time. By "Notwithstanding," the author means despite. So, "notwithstanding the very small size of most of our hummers" means something like despite the fact that hummingbirds are small. The author then says that the birds, especially the male ones, are "pugnacious," and that they are "constantly quarreling and chasing each other" and other birds that are much larger than they are. "Chasing one another" could convey a sense of play, but "quarreling" does not, so "Playful and lighthearted" cannot be the correct answer. Neither "Patient and calm" nor "very hungry" would make much sense in the sentence. The author talks about how small hummingbirds are at the start of the sentence, but "pugnacious" does not appear in this part of the sentence, so "minuscule" is not the correct answer: it wouldn't make sense to claim that despite their small size, the hummingbirds are "minuscule"!

The correct answer is "angry and combative." This answer choice fits the description of the birds' behavior that follows.

Example Question #5 : Reading: Informational Text

"The Ruby-throated Hummingbird"

Geographical Range and Migration

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the sole representative of the hummingbird family in eastern North America. It is only a summer visitor in Canada and throughout the greater part of its range in the United States, excepting the southern portions of the Florida peninsula, where it winters to some extent. The majority of these birds migrate south, though, spending the winter in some of the Caribbean islands, while others pass through eastern Mexico into Central America. It usually arrives along our southern border in the latter part of March, rarely reaching the more northern States before the middle of May. It usually goes south again about the latter part of September, the males preceding the females, I believe, in both migrations. 

 

Appearance and Behavior

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have iridescent green feathers on their backs and white feathers on their bellies. The male birds have a patch of red feathers on their throats, from which the species derives its name. Both male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have relatively short tails and beaks and lack any crest of feathers on their heads.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds’ flight is extremely swift, and the rapid motions of its wings in passing back and forth from one cluster of flowers to another causes a humming or buzzing sound, from which the numerous members of this family derive their name of hummingbirds. Notwithstanding the very small size of most of our hummers, they are all extremely pugnacious, especially the males, and are constantly quarreling and chasing each other, as well as other birds, some of which are many times larger than themselves. Mr. Manly Hardy writes me that he once saw a male Ruby-throat chase a Robin out of his garden. They are rarely seen entirely at rest for any length of time, and, when not busy preening its feathers, they dart about from one place to another. Although such a small, tiny creature, it is full of energy, and never seems to tire.

They seem to be especially partial to anything red. Mr. Manly Hardy writes: "I was once camping on one of the many islands along the coast of Maine during a dense fog, which had held us prisoners for several days, as it was so thick that we could not find our way. We had been living on lobsters, and lots of their red shells lay near the fire in front of our tent, when suddenly a Hummer came out of the fog and darted down at the shells, moving from one to another, seemingly loath to leave them.”

 

What Do They Eat?

There appears to be considerable difference of opinion among various observers regarding the nature of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird’s food. Some contend that it consists principally of nectar sipped from flowers, as well as the sweet sap of certain trees. Others, myself included, believe that they subsist mainly on minute insects and small spiders, the latter forming quite an important article of food with them. Mr. Edwin H. Eames, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, mentions finding sixteen young spiders of uniform size in the throat of a young Hummingbird which was about two days old.

Mr. W. N. Clute, of Binghamton, New York, writes: "The swamp thistle, which blooms in August, seems to have great attractions for the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. I have seen more than a hundred birds about these plants in the course of an hour. Since it has been stated that the bee gets pollen but not honey from the thistle, it would appear that these birds visit these flowers for insects. There is scarcely a flower that contains so many minute insects as a thistle head. Examine one with a lens and it will be found to contain many insects that can hardly be seen with the unaided eye, and if the Ruby-throat eats insects at all, these are the ones it would take; and because the larger ones remained the observer might conclude that none were eaten.” I could quote considerable more testimony showing that the Hummingbirds live to a great extent on minute spiders and insects, but consider it unnecessary.

That our Hummingbirds live to some extent on the sap of certain trees is undoubtedly true, but that they could exist for any length of time on such food alone is very questionable. They are particularly fond of the sap of the sugar maple, and only slightly less so of that of a few other species of trees. They are also fond of the nectar secreted in many flowers. While stationed at the former cavalry depot at St. Louis, Missouri, in 1873-74, I occupied a set of quarters that were completely overrun with large trumpet vines. When these were in bloom, the place fairly swarmed with Ruby-throats. They were exceedingly inquisitive, and often poised themselves before an open window and looked in my rooms full of curiosity, their bright little eyes sparkling like black beads. I have caught several, while busily engaged sipping nectar in these large, showy flowers, by simply placing my hand over them, and while so imprisoned they never moved, and feigned death, but as soon as I opened my hand they were off like a flash. 

 

07627v

 

Passage adapted from "Ruby-throated Hummingbird" from Issue 3 of Life Histories of North American Birds, From the Parrots to the Grackles, with Special Reference to Their Breeding Habits and Eggs by Charles Bendire (1895)

Image adapted from Giltsch, Adolf, Lithographer, and Ernst Haeckel. Trochilidae. - Kolibris. [Leipzig und Wien: Verlag des Bibliographischen Instituts, 1904] Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/2015648985>.

 

The title of the illustration is “Trochilidae.”—you can see it at the bottom of the image. This is a scientific Latin name. Based on the picture, what can you infer “Trochilidae” means?

Possible Answers:

Migratory birds

Birds and Animals

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Hummingbirds

Correct answer:

Hummingbirds

Explanation:

Let's consider the picture for a moment before we answer this question. In it, we see a great many birds shown, and they all look very different from one another. They're all about the same size, and look similar in terms of body shape. While some have long tails, crests of feathers, or curved beaks, they all share a somewhat similar look. For example, there's not a hawk or seagull or robin shown amongst them. They look like they might be somewhat related despite their different details.

Now let's consider the answer choices. We can't infer anything about whether these birds migrate or not, so "Migratory birds" isn't correct. "The Ruby-throated Hummingbird" doesn't make sense, either, as this is one type of hummingbird with a specific look to it, not a name that applies to a group of similar birds. "Female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds" is incorrect for the same reason. On the other hand, "Birds and Animals" is too general a title—all the organisms in this picture are birds, so it wouldn't make sense to title it "birds and animals." In addition, these birds look like they have something in common. The correct answer is "Hummingbirds." The birds in the picture look similar to one another because they are all different species of the family of hummingbirds. 

Example Question #3 : Determine Figurative, Connotative, And Technical Word Meanings: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.6.4

Adapted from “In Cowboy Land” in An Autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt (1913)

Though I had previously made a trip into the then Territory of Dakota, beyond the Red River, it was not until 1883 that I went to the Little Missouri, and there took hold of two cattle ranches, the Chimney Butte and the Elkhorn.

It was still the Wild West in those days, the Far West, the West of Owen Wister's stories and Frederic Remington's drawings. That land of the West has gone now, "gone, gone with lost Atlantis," gone to the isle of ghosts and of strange dead memories. It was a land of vast silent spaces, of lonely rivers, and of plains where the wild game stared at the passing horseman. It was a land of scattered ranches, of herds of long-horned cattle, and of reckless riders who unmoved looked in the eyes of life or of death. In that land we led a free and hardy life, with horse and with rifle. We knew toil and hardship and hunger and thirst; and we saw men die violent deaths as they worked among the horses and cattle, or fought in evil feuds with one another; but we felt the beat of hardy life in our veins, and ours was the glory of work and the joy of living.

I first reached the Little Missouri on a Northern Pacific train about three in the morning of a cool September day in 1883. Next day I walked over to the abandoned army post, and, after some hours among the gray log shacks, a ranchman who had driven into the station agreed to take me out to his ranch, the Chimney Butte ranch, where he was living with his brother and their partner.

The ranch was a log structure with a dirt roof, a corral for the horses near by, and a chicken-house jabbed against the rear of the ranch house. Inside there was only one room, with a table, three or four chairs, a cooking-stove, and three bunks. The owners were Sylvane and Joe Ferris and William J. Merrifield. There was a fourth man, George Meyer, who also worked for me later. That evening we all played old sledge round the table, and at one period the game was interrupted by a frightful squawking outside which told us that a bobcat had made a raid on the chicken-house.

After a buffalo hunt with my original friend, Joe Ferris, I entered into partnership with Merrifield and Sylvane Ferris, and we started a cow ranch, with the maltese cross brand—always known as "maltee cross," by the way, as the general impression along the Little Missouri was that "maltese" must be a plural. Twenty-nine years later my four friends of that night were delegates to the First Progressive National Convention at Chicago. They were among my most constant companions for the few years next succeeding the evening when the bobcat interrupted the game of old sledge. I lived and worked with them on the ranch, and with them and many others like them on the round-up.

I do not believe there ever was any life more attractive to a vigorous young fellow than life on a cattle ranch in those days. It was a fine, healthy life, too; it taught a man self-reliance, hardihood, and the value of instant decision—in short, the virtues that ought to come from life in the open country. I enjoyed the life to the full.

Based on the way the word is used in the passage, the reader can infer that “old sledge” refers to __________.

Possible Answers:

a plant found only in the western U.S.

a variety of bread that cowboys would eat on long journeys

a type of hammer

an informal get-together between friends

a card game

Correct answer:

a card game

Explanation:

To figure out what "old sledge" is, we'll need to see how the phrase is used in the passage and use the clues provided by the words and sentences around it to define it. In the fourth paragraph, Roosevelt writes:

That evening we all played old sledge round the table, and at one period the game was interrupted by a frightful squawking outside which told us that a bobcat had made a raid on the chicken-house.

Notice his choise of verb: he says that they all "played" old sledge. In addition, he says that they played old sledge, and then "at one period the game was interrupted." This use of "the game" has to refer to "old sledge," the thing being "played." This tells us that "old sledge" must be some sort of a game. The only answer choice that is some sort of game is "a card game," and this is the correct answer.

Example Question #6 : Reading: Informational Text

"The Ruby-throated Hummingbird"

Geographical Range and Migration

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the sole representative of the hummingbird family in eastern North America. It is only a summer visitor in Canada and throughout the greater part of its range in the United States, excepting the southern portions of the Florida peninsula, where it winters to some extent. The majority of these birds migrate south, though, spending the winter in some of the Caribbean islands, while others pass through eastern Mexico into Central America. It usually arrives along our southern border in the latter part of March, rarely reaching the more northern States before the middle of May. It usually goes south again about the latter part of September, the males preceding the females, I believe, in both migrations. 

 

Appearance and Behavior

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have iridescent green feathers on their backs and white feathers on their bellies. The male birds have a patch of red feathers on their throats, from which the species derives its name. Both male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have relatively short tails and beaks and lack any crest of feathers on their heads.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds’ flight is extremely swift, and the rapid motions of its wings in passing back and forth from one cluster of flowers to another causes a humming or buzzing sound, from which the numerous members of this family derive their name of hummingbirds. Notwithstanding the very small size of most of our hummers, they are all extremely pugnacious, especially the males, and are constantly quarreling and chasing each other, as well as other birds, some of which are many times larger than themselves. Mr. Manly Hardy writes me that he once saw a male Ruby-throat chase a Robin out of his garden. They are rarely seen entirely at rest for any length of time, and, when not busy preening its feathers, they dart about from one place to another. Although such a small, tiny creature, it is full of energy, and never seems to tire.

They seem to be especially partial to anything red. Mr. Manly Hardy writes: "I was once camping on one of the many islands along the coast of Maine during a dense fog, which had held us prisoners for several days, as it was so thick that we could not find our way. We had been living on lobsters, and lots of their red shells lay near the fire in front of our tent, when suddenly a Hummer came out of the fog and darted down at the shells, moving from one to another, seemingly loath to leave them.”

 

What Do They Eat?

There appears to be considerable difference of opinion among various observers regarding the nature of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird’s food. Some contend that it consists principally of nectar sipped from flowers, as well as the sweet sap of certain trees. Others, myself included, believe that they subsist mainly on minute insects and small spiders, the latter forming quite an important article of food with them. Mr. Edwin H. Eames, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, mentions finding sixteen young spiders of uniform size in the throat of a young Hummingbird which was about two days old.

Mr. W. N. Clute, of Binghamton, New York, writes: "The swamp thistle, which blooms in August, seems to have great attractions for the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. I have seen more than a hundred birds about these plants in the course of an hour. Since it has been stated that the bee gets pollen but not honey from the thistle, it would appear that these birds visit these flowers for insects. There is scarcely a flower that contains so many minute insects as a thistle head. Examine one with a lens and it will be found to contain many insects that can hardly be seen with the unaided eye, and if the Ruby-throat eats insects at all, these are the ones it would take; and because the larger ones remained the observer might conclude that none were eaten.” I could quote considerable more testimony showing that the Hummingbirds live to a great extent on minute spiders and insects, but consider it unnecessary.

That our Hummingbirds live to some extent on the sap of certain trees is undoubtedly true, but that they could exist for any length of time on such food alone is very questionable. They are particularly fond of the sap of the sugar maple, and only slightly less so of that of a few other species of trees. They are also fond of the nectar secreted in many flowers. While stationed at the former cavalry depot at St. Louis, Missouri, in 1873-74, I occupied a set of quarters that were completely overrun with large trumpet vines. When these were in bloom, the place fairly swarmed with Ruby-throats. They were exceedingly inquisitive, and often poised themselves before an open window and looked in my rooms full of curiosity, their bright little eyes sparkling like black beads. I have caught several, while busily engaged sipping nectar in these large, showy flowers, by simply placing my hand over them, and while so imprisoned they never moved, and feigned death, but as soon as I opened my hand they were off like a flash. 

 

07627v

 

Passage adapted from "Ruby-throated Hummingbird" from Issue 3 of Life Histories of North American Birds, From the Parrots to the Grackles, with Special Reference to Their Breeding Habits and Eggs by Charles Bendire (1895)

Image adapted from Giltsch, Adolf, Lithographer, and Ernst Haeckel. Trochilidae. - Kolibris. [Leipzig und Wien: Verlag des Bibliographischen Instituts, 1904] Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/2015648985>.

 

The author’s description of his interaction with Ruby-throated Hummingbirds appears in the section __________ because his anecdote __________.

Possible Answers:

“Appearance and Behavior” . . . describes how hummingbirds are curious

“What Do They Eat?” . . . demonstrates how easy it is for other animals to catch Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to eat

“Appearance and Behavior” . . . describes the appearance of Ruby-throated hummingbirds

“Geographical Range and Migration” . . . describes where the author saw Ruby-throated hummingbirds

“What Do They Eat?” . . . serves as evidence that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds eat flower nectar

Correct answer:

“What Do They Eat?” . . . serves as evidence that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds eat flower nectar

Explanation:

The author only presents a description of his interaction with hummingbirds in the last paragraph of the passage. In it, he describes watching Ruby-throated hummingbirds feeding from flowers near his window. He describes how he could catch them in the flowers, they would play dead, and then as soon as they could get away, away they flew. 

This question asks specifically about why this anecdote appears in the section that it does. We can knock out a few answer choices by identifying the correct section: this part of the passage appears in the section called "What Do They Eat?" Now we have two answer choices to pick from. Is this story in this section because it "serves as evidence that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds eat flower nectar"? Or is it in this section because it "demonstrates how easy it is for other animals to catch Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to eat"? The author never talks about other animals catching and eating hummingbirds, so this isn't the correct answer. Consider the sentence that precedes this one: "They are also fond of the nectar secreted in many flowers." The author tells his story to provide evidence that the hummingbirds do indeed like to drink flower nectar. The best answer choice is "“What Do They Eat?” . . . serves as evidence that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds eat flower nectar."

← Previous 1 3

All Common Core: 6th Grade English Language Arts Resources

1 Diagnostic Test 33 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept
Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors