Hummingbirds: Taking Turns

Our hummingbird feeders are draining quickly this week, with several birds taking turns at the feeder.  I hope this means one of the female hummingbirds is nesting nearby. The adults need to eat every twenty minutes. Once the female lays her eggs, she is in constant search of food.

Many birds work in pairs to ready the nest, but not in this case. The male of the species doesn’t stay around to help. A flyby exchange of fluids lasting seconds is all it takes to fertilize the eggs. Then the promiscuous male hummingbird is off.

The female hummingbird lays a pair of eggs at a time. She nests five or six times a season. Tiny eggs are the size of  tic tacs®, laid in a golf-ball-sized nest.  She uses soft grasses and twigs, then wraps the nest with silk from a spider’s web to keep it together.

In addition to eating nectar, hummingbirds consume soft-bodied insects for protein.

While I consider putting my feet up over the weekend, she’ll be hunting and gathering, building and nesting and finally rearing a pair of infants till they fledge.

Head slap: so *that* is how she maintains that svelte figure.

What are your plans this weekend?

Female Anna's Hummingbird

Female Anna’s Hummingbird

Male Anna's Hummingbird

Male Anna’s Hummingbird

What’s in the feeder?

Sugar water. Mix one part white sugar with four parts water and your done. Food coloring is unnecessary and harmful to these tiny birds.

23 thoughts on “Hummingbirds: Taking Turns

  1. Those photos are beautiful! I feel so well educated about hummingbirds and have never seen one! How on earth does she gather a web enough to wrap her nest? That is mind boggling!

    PS I think you should omit the ‘possibly harmful’ part of your last sentence and say ‘is harmful’ re the food colouring….. that stuff is pure poison for us, heavens knows what it would do to such a tiny and delicate birds stomach!

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    • I’m amazed at the things she accomplishes. They’re quite remarkable little things.

      I will change the last paragraph right now. I was dismayed after taking the class to walk by a display at the hardware store, and see all the pre-made, red nectar for sale. Half the feeders had yellow flowers, too, the other half red. Thank you.

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      • Excellent 🙂 Red is the worst you know – cochineal, which I used to happily use when I was very young on account of it’s pretty colour is highly toxic to humans and I can’t even imagine what it would do to a birds digestion!

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        • We’re all much better educated now then we once were. What I don’t understand, is why they continue to sell it.

          I’ve learned so much over the years. We do get wiser as we age. Aren’t we lucky?

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  2. She’s an amazing little creature to have such an innate drive to continually bear and rear her young. I’m amazed that she can collect spiderwebs and wrap them round the nest without it getting all over herself. Tic-Tac size eggs? WOW. That’s really mind-blowing isn’t it? Have you been able to follow her flight back to her nest? Oh, I hope they’re all ok. Thank you for being so diligent with your feeders so they have a reliable place to come. Natures guardian, that’s you! Loved your photo’s too, super duper close up 😀 xoK

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    • Thank you for your amazing support. She flies in and out of the yard, but I do see her fly toward the orange tree quite a bit, and I’ve wondered if she is nesting there. There are so many other critters in that tree, though, like rats and squirrels because of the fruit, so perhaps not. I would love to know.

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  3. Oh how lucky you are to having a hummingbird in your garden! This weekend, I’m planning to take advantage of the promised good weather. Tomorrow we are going on a botany outing (orchid hunting!) and we’ll have a picnic too!

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    • That sounds like a great day to me. Orchid hunting? I would love to hear more.

      We’re enjoying glorious weather today. Its warm with a breeze and the sky is clear blue with a few high, white clouds. Amazing.

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      • Sounds lovely!
        About the “orchid hunting”, my husband is part of an orchidophile club. In the spring and early summer, they organise outings to different places where they will find particular species of wild orchids in flower. It’s nice if you like orchids, but even just if you like to be out in the open in the middle of nice scenery!

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        • What a lovely outing! I would love to do something like that. I must investigate more of those things now that my boys are much older. We used to do kid-centric things when they were young and always followed their interests. Asking me anything you want to know about trains and tractors. LOL

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          • Ah well Liam is young enough that he doesn’t have his own interests as such! 🙂
            One couple brought their teenage girls, they spend the day always no closer than 30 metres to everyone, playing with their DS lites and smartphones! 🙂 Luckily I’ve a decade before that happens! 🙂

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  4. Wow! Excellent photos. Love the eye in that first one!
    Heading out in a bit to get some plants … or at least look at some.
    Perhaps I should have a plan? HA!

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    • Plan, shman…just go for it. I do plenty of ‘planning’ on the floor of the nursery. I’m inspired by the wonderful plants I find and like to incorporate new things when I can.

      Can’t wait to hear.

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