That Wraps Up the Nests

Hummingbird nest with two eggs in mulberry tree

Baby season is over for the local birds. I have a big window in my office so I feel privileged to be able to observe the mating, nest building, egg laying, and nursery care for several species. Two sets of swallows have fledged from the porch light, and two sets of hummingbirds from the mulberry trees in the yard. It’s a team effort between the mother and father—I like to think I’m in on it but I’m sure they’re helping me more than I’m helping them.

The hummingbirds build their nest on the flimsiest of branches during the height of monsoon storms—it never looks like they’re going to make it. We call the babies “riders on the storm” and they do get tossed around. But the parents choose their site with a purpose, the bigger birds would have a hard time landing in there on a tiny branch. I went out there and threw pebbles at a pair of cactus wrens a couple times. Cactus wrens are common in the desert but this is the first time I’ve ever seen them in the yard—I was all excited until I realized they were harassing the hummer nest and the little mother was going at them with all she had. Such is nature. All’s well with the hummer babies,  but there were a few fatalities with the second swallow brood. I hate the death part, but only the strong are going to survive and carry on.

Baby hummingbirds just hatched

Baby hummingbirds one week old

Getting bigger

Growing up fast

Ready to fledge!

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4 responses to “That Wraps Up the Nests

  1. I love hummingbirds. About ten years ago I found a baby hummer on our deck, I thought it was dead but when I realized it wasn’t I searched for the nest with no luck. I called a bunch of rescue sites hoping to get help for the poor baby but they all said there is no hope for it since they need so much care and they wouldn’t take it. I rigged up a makeshift feeding tube in a shoe box and hoped for the best. Hummingbirds usually die within their first year and if they survive that they can live up to 8 years. Luckily, the little hummer I saved did survive and for years afterward, when he came to feed at our feeders every summer, I could stand out on the deck and he would hover at eye level just looking at me. I like to think he was saying thanks :)

  2. Wow, you saved him…that’s amazing. I watch the mother feeding her babies with binoculars—she sticks her tongue way down into the throats of the babies, it’s quite a sight…but I always fear that if something happened to the mother we’d never be able to care for the babies.

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever seen hummingbird chicks before. Amazing! I do miss hummingbirds since I left the U.S.

  4. I think they’re amazing too. We tried to attract them back east, but they never stuck around. In AZ, if you put out a feeder, they will come. It’s easy and fun entertainment!

    Right now we have the nectivorous Mexican long-tongued bats draining the hummer feeder every night. We tried to photograph them last night but they seem to hate the flash. They’re an endangered species so we let them have at the feeder and refill it in the morning.

    http://fireflyforest.net/firefly/2005/09/20/hummingbird-feeder-bats/

    I don’t know how she got these amazing pictures!

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