Costa’s Hummingbirds Helped Me Survive the Pandemic

Originally Published In

Who needs TV when there’s a family of Costa's hummingbirds in the backyard? Discover the joy that hummingbirds bring to our lives.

A family of hummingbirds in a tree.Courtesy Marion Ball/Country magazine
A family of Costa’s hummingbirds in a tree

Costa’s hummingbirds reside year-round in Arizona, so my feeder is always full. The birds that visit the yard are used to us and tolerate our inquisitive nature. In mid-February, a female Costa’s hummingbird built a nest on our Mexican fence post cactus. By Feb. 19 she finished her nest, and on Feb. 22 she laid her first egg. Two days later, she laid a second egg. To my surprise, 18 days after she laid the first egg, both eggs hatched! I was used to eggs hatching in the order they were laid, as per my observations of bluebird, tree swallow and chickadee nest boxes in Nebraska.

Learn more about hummingbird nests.

The joy of baby hummingbirds was quickly overshadowed by the spread of COVID-19 in the United States and three weeks of fickle weather: sunny and warm, storms followed by cold spells, overcast skies, rain and 30-plus mph winds. But through all the turmoil, the thought of all the adorable pictures of baby hummingbirds I could soon take were a bright spot in troubled days.

Costa's hummingbird nestCourtesy Marion Ball/Country magazine
Costa’s hummingbird nest with eggs

Costa’s Hummingbird Nest

The Costa’s hummingbird hatchlings were just 8 days old when we had a full day of rain and cold temperatures. When I noticed Mom had left to hunt for food, I put an umbrella over the cactus so the nest and young birds would stay dry. When Mom returned, she flew under the umbrella and into the nest. Though it was a cold and miserable day, the little family stayed dry.

I spent a lot of time outside watching the mother feeding and taking care of her young. She was such a good mom, making sure each hatchling had enough to eat. Days before the hatchlings fledged, Mom became more elusive and aggressive. She did not allow other hummingbirds into the yard. Of course the other hummingbirds managed to sneak into the yard when she was out looking for food.

Psst—here’s what hummingbirds eat.

Baby Costa’s Hummingbirds

On the morning of April 1, the youngsters fledged. The stronger baby left the nest first and flew to the 6-foot wall. Not to be outdone, the second baby flew from the nest into the lime tree. I was lucky to capture a family portrait.

Over the years, it has been a joy to watch birds. I’m grateful to them for reminding me that life in all its forms is precious. Seeing these hummingbirds embark on their life journeys has helped me overcome my worries about the global pandemic.

Next, check out frequently asked questions about feeding hummingbirds.

Originally Published in Country