Friday, July 13, 2012

Baby Hummingbirds

I recently had the amazing experience of being able to see two baby hummingbirds grow up. A customer of mine kindly let me know about a rufous hummingbird nest and I jumped at the chance to see it. One day she took me there, and I managed to get one shot of the mother hummingbird sitting on the nest.

The babies had already been born and I believe this was the last day the mother sat on the nest. (By the way, the beautiful nest is made out of lichen and moss, and lined with feathers and sometimes bullrush fluff. Often hummingbirds bind the nest with spider web, which is strong but flexible.)

The baby hummingbirds were tiny featherless creatures that reminded me of little lizards. When you looked at the nest from the side, all you could see was two beaks sticking up. (That's how hummingbirds sleep, by the way, with their beaks straight up in the air.)

Here are the baby hummingbirds a few days later.

Baby Hummingbirds in Nest

I noticed that one of the babies looked a lot smaller than the other so I did a little research. Apparently hummingbirds almost always lay two eggs, and usually the eggs are two days apart. However that doesn't explain the size difference between the two babies because hummingbird eggs usually hatch on the same day.

Knowing that it takes about three weeks for hummingbirds to leave the nest, I visited a couple of more times. Here's a shot of the two hummers when they were starting to get too big for their nest.

Baby Rufous Hummingbirds in the Nest

I returned a few days later to find that one of the hummingbirds had already left the nest. He was flying around, making peeping sounds at his mother who was also nearby.

I found the other baby hummingbird sitting on the edge of the nest.

Baby Hummingbird Sitting on Nest

The nest was in the middle of the woods but right on a trail. I had to walk past the nest to photograph the hummingbirds because the tree branches were in the way on the other side. The tiny bird calmly watched me as I passed and just seemed to be sitting there thinking things over while I photographed her. (I don't know why I think of her as a "she" but I do.)

Here's another shot of the hummingbird telling me that she'd had enough of the picture-taking...

She stuck her tongue out a few times...I'm not sure why hummingbirds do this, but they do it fairly often.

When I walked past the nest to leave I heard the unmistakable buzz of a hummingbird in flight. The baby hummingbird had left the nest! She flew to one of the cedar tree branches, was fed by her mother, then flew a little further.

I stayed for a few more minutes, watching the happy family. What an incredible feeling to be able to witness this. I'll always remember it.

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