Identifying a Hummingbird Nest
Birds and Blooms reader shares her insights on identifying a Hummingbird nest after years of searching.
By F. Dwain Phillips, Stillwater, Oklahoma
I've attracted hummingbirds to my backyard for 20 years. But try as I might, I've never been able to find even one nest.
I always assumed the little hummers built their nests so high in the trees that I just couldn't spot them. But last summer, I learned that I may have seen the nests before without even realizing it.
Know What to Look For
It all started when a friend called to say he'd found a ruby-throated hummer's nest in his yard. Knowing I like wildlife photography, he figured I'd be interested in taking a look—and a few photos. Was I ever!
When I arrived in his yard, I was surprised to find the tiny, cup-shaped nest anchored tightly to an oak tree limb just 8 feet above the ground. A 6-foot stepladder put me at eye level with it. The nest was made of fine animal and plant down, moss and lichens. To my delight, it held two pure-white eggs, each about 1/2 inch long.
I finally understood why I hadn't been able to find a hummingbird nest before. Only about 1-1/2 inches in diameter, it blended so well with the tree bark that it looked like nothing more than a bump on the branch. After examining the nest, I pulled the ladder several feet back and waited with my camera. It didn't take long for the female hummer to return. She kept a wary eye on me while I snapped a few quick photos.
Later, when the eggs hatched, I had the good fortune to photograph the young birds, too. They stayed in the nest about 3 weeks before they were big enough to fly. Showing my photographs to friends, I found that none of them had ever seen a hummingbird nest, either. It made me realize what a rare thing I'd experienced. Now I appreciate the little hummers more than ever!