Hummingbird nests are amazing architectural creations that protect and nurture some of the world's most delicate birds.
It may only be five to eight weeks from the time nest construction begins until the maturing birds leave home, but observing hummingbird nests can be a rewarding and enchanting experience for birders.
If you’ve been in the vicinity of a hummingbird nest, odds are you’ve walked right by and not even noticed it. Their nests are tough to find due to their tiny size and ability to blend into their surroundings.
Hummingbirds typically pick a spot with plenty of overhead cover so that rain is deflected away. This fact also makes their nests almost invisible to spot if you are looking from above.
To find the hidden nests of Ruby-throated and Rufous Hummingbirds, watch where females fly when they leave your feeder during the nesting season, and try to follow them. The female ruby-throat usually builds the nest on top of a branch 10 to 40 feet above ground; near human habitation, hummingbird nests have been found on loops of chain, wire, or electric cords.
The nests of Anna’s Hummingbirds are much easier to find, often built in areas of high human activity, probably due to their dependence on feeders and ornamental plants during the nesting season and to the high human population along the Pacific coast.
When choosing a nest location, the female bird may land on it repeatedly to test the stability of the perch that, if chosen, must support her weight as well as the weight of the nest and her growing chicks. Because hummingbirds weigh so little, nearly any perch can be suitable as a nesting site.
Hummingbirds choose safe, sheltered locations for their nests, ensuring that their hatchlings are protected from sun, wind, rain, or predators.
The most common nest locations are in the forked branch of a tree, along thin plant branches, or sheltered in dense bushes. Thicket-like areas or thorny bushes are especially preferred for the extra protection they provide
If you are fortunate enough to find a hummingbird nest, it can be tempting to watch it closely to see the magical growth of the tiny family. Like all nesting birds, however, female hummingbirds can be shy and skittish and may abandon nests if they do not feel secure.
It is always best to keep your distance from a nest and enjoy it from afar rather than risk harming the nest or chicks by being too eager to see them.