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Posts Tagged ‘Hummingbird Nest’

Watching our baby hummingbirds grow these past few weeks has been so fascinating. I feel incredibly lucky to have had such a close-up view of this little miracle.

By the beginning of last week the babies were hard pressed to fit their almost adult-sized bodies into the nest and I had no doubt that they’d be ready to leave the nest soon.

Though I never saw these two move much, I’ve read that baby hummingbirds will hold onto the nest with their feet while flapping their wings to prepare for their first flight, so when I saw them perching on the edge of the nest on Thursday I knew that they were almost ready to fly.

I also knew that this was a vulnerable time for them and was really worried when I saw our pesky crows nearby. They were clearly plotting a raid on the nest. We ran out a dozen times a day to chase them whenever they got too close. My little JRT, Emmie, was delighted with this activity — no doubt she thought that we had finally come to our senses about our live and let live policy.

Crows are very skittish creatures and they can be brutal. (If you’ve never seen a crow devour a fledgling, consider yourself lucky.) So I was REALLY worried when I saw just one baby in the nest on Saturday.

All day Saturday the remaining baby perched on the edge of its nest. Come evening it fluffed up its feathers and looked rather pathetic all by its lonesome. I fretted about the crows, the cold and every other thing my imagination could conjure up. First thing on Sunday morning I went to the window and was so relieved to see Mama Bird sitting on the branch just above her baby. Then I noticed the missing baby in the tree above. Hallelujah, the crows didn’t eat it after all!

I realized that this might be my last chance to take a picture of the reluctant little hummingbird, because Mama was trying to get her late bloomer to leave the nest.

As soon as I clicked the shutter, it flew off. Aside for a glimpse or two on Sunday I haven’t seen the babies, but I’m sure they are around here somewhere.

I really miss going to the window to check on them. Curiously it looks like someone has been doing renovations to the nest. That means we might have another clutch of eggs this spring. Wouldn’t that be terrific!

P.S. Type “hummingbirds” into the search box and take a look at earlier pics of the eggs and little hatchlings. To find out how to attract hummingbird to your garden click here.

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My how our babies have grown! It’s been nine days since I last shared photos with you and I think you too will be amazed at the changes.

Here’s how the little ones looked on April 8th when they were about 8 or 9 days old. They are getting their pin feathers and their beaks have begun to darken.

They are sleepy little things. I check on the countless times a day (it’s bordering on obsession) and I always see them resting peacefully under their leafy canopy. Rarely does Mama Bird sit on her nest. She seems to be out and about most of the day, coming home to keep her chicks warm only when the sun is setting.

I’m not really able to take any pics of her feeding the chicks. I read that she feeds them a regurgitated mixture of bugs and nectar every 20 minutes or so. I have managed to get  a glimpse of her feeding them once or twice but, while she usually doesn’t get too bothered by me looking at her babies or taking pictures, she completely freaks if I’m anywhere near while she’s trying to feed them. I took this shot on April 11th when they were 12 or 13 days old.

Our babies have gotten a lot more feathers which is a good thing, because they can no longer snuggle deep into the beautiful nest their Mama built them. As a matter of fact by about 9 days they have enough feathers to regulate their own body temperature.

This next picture is from today. They are about 16 days old and starting to look like hummingbirds — if you look closely at the feathers on their rumps you can see that they are beginning to get a little color.

In a few more days, when they are around three weeks old, they will try their wings. Can’t wait!

Some of you have asked me to take a shot that shows just how little everything is. So here’s your picture. Look at that tiny, tiny wing!

I think that our babies need names, but I’m so lame when it comes to coming up with cute names. So how about some help naming our little birds. Anybody have suggestions — other than Sleepy and Dopey?

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It’s been such a thrill to see our Mama Hummingbird as she cares for her eggs. I wrote last week about finding her nest and promised to keep you updated on the latest. Well, drumroll please…both of her eggs have hatched!

Last Tuesday and Wednesday I noticed Mama spending more time than usual in her nest. On Thursday she left her perch long enough for me to take a peek and I saw two funny-looking little gumbys laying in the shattered remains of their eggs. One baby was all curled up and the other bobbled it’s noggin, beak up, looking for it’s Mama.

I was able to grab a couple more shots on Saturday at which point the two little babies started to look more like birds than tiny aliens. You can see that they are starting to get their feathers.

I haven’t been able to get any shots this morning, but as soon as I do I’ll add it the to this post.

Below are some tips on how you can create a garden that hummingbirds will love to call home.

Provide Food and Shelter

Hummingbirds eat flower nectar and small insects (which is what they feed their babies). They also will eat a sugar and water solution from a feeder (1 part sugar to 4 parts water – NO RED DYE, no honey), but you must be diligent about keeping your feeder clean by washing it with a brush and warm water (no soap) every 3 – 4 days. I don’t keep a feeder because when I do the ants always find it and it’s a terrible mess.

Plants provide food, shelter and nest-building materials for hummingbirds and all manner of small creatures in your garden. And don’t be such a neat freak — our Mama Bird used lots of spider webs to build her nest, which is why I leave them all over the place (not really, I just never get around to removing them).

I’ve been watching Mama Bird as she makes her way around my garden. Two of her favorite stops are the lavender and the jasmine. Hummingbirds prefer red and yellow flowers, but will visit others as well. As you see on the list below, you can (and should) plant plants that will provide nectar for most of the growing season.

  • Azalea
  • Bee Balm (Monarda)
  • Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)
  • Canna
  • Cardinal Flower
  • Cape and Coral Honeysuckle
  • Columbine
  • Coral Bells
  • Currants
  • Firespike
  • Flame Acanthus
  • Flowering Quince
  • Four O’Clocks
  • Foxglove
  • Fuchsia
  • Gooseberries
  • Hosta
  • Hummingbird Mint (Agastache)
  • Lantana
  • Lavender
  • Lupine
  • Manzanita
  • Monkey Flower
  • Penstemons – especially red and yellow
  • Scarlet Runner Bean
  • Salvias
  • Summer Holly
  • Trumpet Creeper
  • Weigela
  • Yucca

Many of these will plants attract and feed other pollinators, like bees and butterflies, as well.

Provide Water

A reliable, clean source of water is another thing birds look for when deciding to build nests. The bees will thank you too. Did you know that bees drink water? They do — check it out.)

NEVER Use Pesticides

I use only organic or mechanical means of pest control and I leave some of the bad bugs in the garden so the birds (and beneficial bugs and lizards) have food. Pesticides will kill all the small bugs that hummingbirds eat for protein. Pesticides can also make birds sick, or could kill them.

Our babies should be in the nest for a couple of more weeks and I will, of course, be sharing more pics. Then they’ll be out on their own and hopefully coming back to my garden when it’s time to build their nests.

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Last week I was watering a plant on my windowsill when a flash of movement caught my eye. A hummingbird!

She hovered on the other side of the glass and I couldn’t figure out why she was looking at me through this window. The hummers in my garden are always checking out what I’m doing, but this window is facing the innermost corner of a little walled garden — not the birds’ usual haunt. In a moment the mystery was solved as I watched her flit past the Heavenly Bamboo’s leafy cover and settle into her tiny, tiny nest.

Hardly able to contain my excitement (I at least had the presence of mind to move away), I literally jumped up and did a happy dance. What an honor to be able to see this little miracle unfold!

This is precisely why I have been gardening organically and why I’ve done my best to make my property a creature-friendly habitat. It’s so obviously paid off. I have many more birds, lizards and beneficial insects in my garden, especially this year.

My beds need to be cleaned and my shrubs could use a trim, but I had a feeling that with all this activity there must be a nest or two hidden from view. So I decided to hold off on that work and I’ve made a real effort to keep Miss Emmie on a short leash for the nesting season. Good thing, because the hummingbird’s nest is so tiny — the size of a golf ball — that I never would have seen it before the loppers dropped the branch, nest and all, to the ground.

The nest is hidden in the leafy branches on the far lower right part of the shrub.

Mama Bird has been a real trooper. She’s endured several storms the past few days, one of which had 50 – 60 mph winds. She just hunkers down in her nest while the shrub sways in the wind. She chose a good place to build her nest though. The little garden is walled in on three side and the fourth side has only a four-foot opening.

Her nest is a marvelous structure. It’s cantilevered out from a fork in the branches and she’s constructed it from the materials at hand; I recognize birch bark, dried leaf pieces, skinny twigs, and lots and lots of cobwebs to hold it all together.

Mama Bird has only one egg in her nest, though hummingbirds often lay two. She has a regular schedule leaving her nest for about 20 minutes at a time, but most of the day she sits quietly on her egg. I’ve been watching her for a week, so it should be just  another week or so till baby emerges from its egg.

Here she sits for the most part unperturbed by my nosey camera. I haven’t wanted to scare her so I’ve taken these pics with available light, through a dirty pane of glass, which is why the last two are grainy and not very sharp. I’d love some better shots, but the important thing is to make sure that I don’t disturb her, not the quality of the pictures.

I can’t wait to see our little baby hummingbird! Of course, I’ll be taking as many pictures as Mama will allow and sharing them here with you.

Happy Spring!!!

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