When a Rose, Isn’t Just a Rose

Should I or shouldn't I?

Should I or shouldn’t I?

I’ve had my eyes glued to the inner branches of a rosebush all weekend. I’m right back at it today.  This isn’t just ‘any’ rosebush.  In fact, it’s not even my rosebush.

Tucked into the branches of this very special rosebush are a pair of nesting Allen Hummingbirds.  They’re expected to fledge at any time.  It’s mesmerizing watching the activity at the nest, something you wouldn’t normally see. Thanks to an astute gardener and the wonders of streaming video, you can see Phoebe’s nest 24/7 courtesy of a webcam just inches from the nest.

I’ve been snapping screen shots for the past few days, whenever ‘Faith’ or ‘Sandy’ start hovering above the golf-ball sized nest.  Most of my screen shots are false alarms.  Then, while I was seeing one of my boys off to school, one of the girls fledged the nest.

Then…she came back!  She left again (when I turned my back), and again returned.  It’s been quite the morning. I have two windows open on my computer as I write this, wishing you were all sitting here with me watching the show.

Sandy fledged, then returned

Sandy fledged, then returned

Once hatched, the hummingbirds leave the nest within twenty days or so.  Sadly, many don’t survive the first year, but those that do can live upwards of 12 years.  After watching the nest for so long, I’ve started to think of them as ‘my baby birds.’  I’ll bet everyone else feels the same way.  In fact, Phoebe has quite the following.  As of this writing, she’s had close to 15 million views in over sixty countries.

I encourage you to click on the webcam link below. If you miss the fledge, chances are she’ll be nesting again soon.  Phoebe returns to this rosebush every year, laying five clutches a season.

Here’s what you might see:

  • Mama Phoebe feeding her offspring.
  • Faith and Sandy fledging (leaving) the nest
  • Grooming (known as preening)
  • Dozing…so darn cute when they close those eyes

Be sure to tell a friend!

Phoebe Allen webcam streaming live from California (PST)

Phoebe, Sandy and Faith

Phoebe, Sandy and Faith

Phoebe feeds her brood every 15-30 minutes

Phoebe feeds her brood every 15-30 minutes

Trying out the wings

Trying out her wings

Dedicated to Erica and Joe. Thank you for making this all possible.

18 thoughts on “When a Rose, Isn’t Just a Rose

  1. How on earth do they fit into that little nest? They’re seriously cute… I should imagine it’s quite addictive Alys. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you saw a little piece of green lint in the nest!!


    • Alas, if only they were close enough to snag some of my lint. I keep hoping I’ll see a bird swoop by and grab a mouthfall. Stay tuned!

      As for the nest, they surely have outgrown it. The eggs are the size of tic-tac mints. I think Mama makes a point, too. If you no longer fit in the nest, it’s time to spread your wings.


  2. You’re so clever to take screen shots, love it, love it! I wish they would stay home all summer so they’d be safe. Erica and Joe will be so happy to see your photo’s too. I didn’t see the mom this morning but watched Sandy and Faith. It wasn’t quite daylight yet and I thought I saw them stick their tongues out? Have you noticed that?


    • I know! I’m curious about the camera installation. My guess is they installed it in between nesting seasons so they didn’t disturb anything. It’s easy to forget how small the nest is, too, when you see it up close on your screen. Simply amazing.


  3. You got some great screen shots, Alys! What a captivating spell those little darlings have cast upon us! I feel fortunate to have had the uncommon luxury of getting to watch the nest activity for quite a while over the past several days, witnessing the feeding, preening, tongue-darting, wing-testing, and…. fledging. I was a bit (happily)surprised to still see the chicks returning to sit on the nest yesterday, then my heart sank a little today when the nest remained empty, just swaying slightly in the breeze. Of course, it’s what we knew was inevitable, but knowing something is inevitable doesn’t make its eventual occurrance much less emotional. I hope the fledglings will grow to be healthy, long-lived adults, someday producing babies of their own.

    I’ll keep an eye on the web cam site for any future broadcasts. Meanwhile, I enjoy my days sitting at the computer next to my big kitchen window, which affords a lovely view of our backyard jungle and lots of bird activity within it. I just must remember now that when I hear the whir of hummingbird wings, to look toward the window, and not the computer screen!


    • Thank you, CC! They are captivating. I’m so glad you had the chance to enjoy many hours at the nest. I’ve not had the time this week (since Monday) but I knew the time was short. I was surprised from what I had read on the site that they did keep coming back. Some of the chatters who seemed to be in the know from other fledges, said that Phoebe was in the courtyard showing the little ones the ropes. It’s all so fascinating.

      I couldn’t agree with you more: ‘knowing something is inevitable doesn’t make its occurrence less emotional.’ Well said.

      Perhaps you’ll have a chance to put up the photo of all those hummingbirds flying toward your feeder. I’ve never seen anything like it.


  4. Pingback: Lunar Gardening Tips for Roses

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