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One of nature’s amazing artists in terms of nesting is the hummingbird. Being the masters of camouflage they are, you won’t just stumble onto a hummingbird nest very often. Their nests can be tricky to spot. Some look like a bump on the tree, and others look like a tiny knot on lichens and plants.
If you happen to come across a hummingbird’s nest, do not touch it because it may spook the bird and force them to abandon the nest and babies.
If you’re curious to learn more about the nesting behaviors of hummingbirds, read on.
There are over 330 species of hummingbirds1, with at least 17 of those species being found mainly in the Americas. They usually migrate to Central and South America, with at least two dozen also migrating to North America.
Some of the most common species of hummingbirds in North America include Anna’s Hummingbirds, Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds, and Black-Chinned Hummingbirds.
Most other species are found mainly on the West Coast around Southern California.
You will be amazed at how creative hummingbirds can get, and finding their nests is not easy. Hummingbirds prefer tree branches and build nests deep within bushes for extra protection.
Some of these birds also build their nests as high as 90 feet off the ground to increase protection for their hatchlings. They are also known to choose odd spots you’d never think of, including:
The best way to find a hummingbird nest is to find their nectar source and observe them throughout the day.
After you spot one, follow it back home or until you lose sight of her. This could take a few attempts.
However, if you are patient enough, you will be able to trail her to her home and spot the nest from a distance. Remember not to get too close.
Apart from their ability to camouflage their nests, the nest size is another advantage that makes hummingbirds hardly detectable. Hummingbird nests are tiny, to a point you will mistake them for something else.
Compared to a bald eagle nest, which could be as big as 10 feet across, a hummingbird nest will be 1.5 inches in diameter—roughly the size of a ping pong ball.
Different hummingbird species will build different kinds of nests, with the primary focus being protection and security.
Each bird species has its preferences when it comes to building nests for its hatchlings. Generally speaking, the heavier the bird, the heavier materials that are required.
Not every bird is careful about the protection and security of its young.
Hummingbirds, on the other hand, use lightweight materials that they decorate with surrounding leaves and plants to help the nest blend with its surroundings.
Compared to most other birds, a hummingbird’s nest is cozy and comfortable due to the soft materials they use. These materials could include:
Hummingbirds weave all the materials together to form a dense cup with the edges curved towards the inside to protect the eggs from falling out, especially in bad weather.
Materials, like a spider’s web, will help with elasticity as the hatchlings grow, while the moss, lichen, and leafy materials will be used for camouflage.
Certain species of birds, including Bald Eagles, California Condors, and Whooping Cranes, will mate for life and remain together to co-raise their hatchlings. However, for some avian species, the male and female will come together in a monogamous relationship for a period long enough to breed and raise their young.
For the hummingbird, the male will spectacularly court the female and leave after mating.
It is not uncommon for a male hummingbird to mate with a couple of female hummingbirds in the same mating season. But one thing is for sure—these females will be left to build the nests without help from the male birds.
Although we have the general information on hummingbird nesting habits, let’s look at specific species and their nesting habits.
Most hatchlings will not spend too much time in the nest, and the hummingbird is no exception. After mating, the female bird will spend several days building the nest and laying jelly-bean-sized eggs. She will then spend most of her time keeping the eggs warm and leave only when looking for food. This will take a couple of weeks.
Once the hatchlings come alive, the hummingbird will provide them with the necessary nutrition, consisting of nectar, insects, and pollen. For the first few days of their lives, the hatchlings cannot generate their own warmth and will need the mother to keep them warm.
By the end of their first week, the baby hummingbirds have already begun to develop their first feathers. After three weeks, they will be ready to leave the nest.
Coupled with their beautiful songs and stunning colors, hummingbirds really bring more life to your yard.
Now that you have input on the way hummingbirds nest, it’s time to think about how you can entice them to your yard.
Hummingbirds are not cavity nesters, meaning you don’t need birdhouses to get them to your yard. The best advice is to let them choose where they want to build their nest and ensure that area is protected.
The first step in enticing hummingbirds to your yard is ensuring the area is accommodating and attractive for the hummingbirds
Ensuring you have enough sources of nectar and bugs will help attract hummingbirds to your yard.
Hummingbirds have a lot of options on where to nest, and you have to take steps to make your yard feel the safest. Planting a few trees and shrubs with branches and thick leaves will attract these birds.
Hummingbirds like misters for their water source. Provide a couple of drinking points with areas they can take a bath and drink water when necessary.
Apart from providing food sources, color will also attract hummingbirds because they associate bright flowers with food. A few flowers will attract them due to the scent and nectar they have.
Providing a safe environment in your yard will go a long way in attracting hummingbirds. There are a couple of ways you can ensure your yard is protected for the benefit of hummingbirds, including:
Providing feeders will attract hummingbirds, but too many feeders will attract a crowd, which may discourage hummingbirds from visiting. This is especially true with feeders for larger bird species.
These can be toxic to birds and their food sources, which will discourage hummingbirds from coming around. Chemicals, even when deemed safe, can be harmful and unappealing.
Although hummingbirds love their share of a good bug diet, some insects threaten them and will discourage them from coming to your yard. Insects like hornets, wasps, and praying mantises are best removed.
Most small birds have a host of predators ready to turn them into dinner. The protection of hummingbirds from these predators can be a huge factor in attracting them to your yard. This means cats, dogs, snakes, and some birds, like hawks, should not be in the area.
Hummingbirds are some of the most interesting species of birds, and just watching them thrive in different environments is a great experience for most bird watchers.
These birds are also unique in the way they construct their nests. It may not be easy to find these nests since they are tiny, camouflaged, and mostly in hard-to-reach places, but that doesn’t mean they’re not present.
Overall, hummingbirds are quite beautiful, and you may want to attract them to your yard to enjoy the beautiful sounds they make.
Featured Image Credit: Veronika_Andrews, Pixabay
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Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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