Friday, April 9, 2010

Birder's Paradise...Ruby Throated Hummingbird Nesting

Image via Wikipedia
Ruby-throated hummingbird public domain USFWA

Our Ruby Throated Hummingbird has returned to nest again under the canopy on our park model.  Living up close and personal with nature here in this RV Resort is a way of life.  We share our park with Javelina, Rattlesnakes, lizards and termites.  Some of our neighbors are more popular than others.

When the Ruby Throated Hummingbird comes to spend some time, it makes any little frights because of the snakes and lizards worth it.  She is working very hard to make this the very best nest ever.  You can tell it is a very small space, something I can relate to.  She is wondering, I think, whether there will be room.

We have watched a hummingbird's nest before.  A nest next to our RV several years ago was the object of interest from the time the birds hatched until they left the nest.  Interestingly enough, the mother continues to feed the babies for several days after they fly from the nest and the babies roost very near to the nest at night.  I would love the see that again but I am afraid we will be gone back to Oregon before this cycle is completed. (Images above are ones we took of the babies in the nest and after they left the nest.  This baby would sleep near to our canopy lights at night to stay warm.  There was only a heart beat between wild flapping of wings and sleep). 

You can watch a live stream of a hummingbirds nest on ustream.  

I just thought you would want to know.

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1 comment:

  1. Here is some information about hummingbirds nest that I thought your readers might enjoy. Hope everyone will find it fascinating. My passion is hummingbirds and I love sharing my knowledge of them with others.

    In general, hummingbirds mate and nest during the times of year when flower blossoms are abundant. In tropical areas, where food is available year round, the breeding season is less predictable. Male and female hummingbirds do not form a pair bond, and the males and females remain together only for courtship and mating. The female hummingbird bares the sole responsibility for building the nests and caring for the young birds once they are born. After mating, the male has no further responsibilities toward reproduction.

    Chances are you will never find a hummingbird nest, even if it is in your own back yard. Most Rufous Hummingbird nests are made of lichens, moss and fragments of bark, bound together with strands of spider web and lined with soft downy plant material like cottonwood fluff. Nests are usually located in the droopy branches of a large spruce tree about 8 to 12 feet above the ground. In Southeast Alaska they have been known to build nests in ferns and vines overhanging embankments. So, if you can’t find a nest, how do we know where they are breeding? The best way is to watch for them at your flower garden or hummingbird feeder and look for young birds. Soon after they leave the nest, the parents will take the youngsters to their favorite feeding areas and teach them how to find nectar. The parents will collect some nectar while the fledglings are watching near by. Then you will see the parents go over and regurgitate the nectar to the young birds. So if you have hummingbirds in your yard, pay special attention in the end of June and early July to see if there are any young birds that do not fly very well. This is a sign that there is a hummingbird nest in your area.

    Another thing to consider when trying to find a hummingbird nest is that it is important to look near a water source. Humidity is important to ensure the development of the embryo inside the egg. It is because of this that hummingbirds prefer to build near rivers, streams, ponds and lakes. Many species also choose to nest near a reliable food supply, so the birds are looking for there to be abundant blossoms in the area. At the same time, the nest will be protected from rainfall and direct sunlight, thus making it likely to be tucked away and difficult to spot.

    Female hummingbirds check the strength of a prospective nest site by clinging to it or repeatedly landing on it. If the site passes the test, a female will begin to build. The nest will be built on the underside of a palm leaf, on the side of a vertical plant stem, on a small branch, on top of a cactus or many other different locations are used and different species have different preferences. Hummingbirds usually build on branches, but the hermit hummingbirds build nests that hang from vegetation or from a vertical plant stem, root, or rock.

    Most typical hummingbirds build cup-shaped nests like the bird’s nests most of us are familiar with. Hermits build cone-shaped nests which hang vertically, attached to something strong enough to support the weight of nest and birds for the breeding season. Hummingbird nests are built with pieces of plants and often cobwebs, and females frequently need to repair the nest as the chicks grow.

    A hummingbird usually lays two white eggs, which are no bigger than peanuts, which hatch within 12 to 14 days after being laid. The young fledge in 18 to 20 days. Hungry nestlings may be seen reaching for the food their mother has brought; the chicks open their mouths in response to air currents created by the beating of her wings. Between three and four weeks after hatching, the young leave the nest and are on their own.


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