Humming-Bird Babies

I’ve had guests this year in the tree outside my studio window.  A mother humming-bird has built a nest!  She’s been the perfect guest, going to bed at dusk and not starting her day before dawn.  Never complaining when we had torrents of rain and winds strong enough to blow over our fence.  She laid two eggs and sat on them throughout all the storms.  She’s a good mother and an amazing engineer. She built her nest in a “Y” branch of our tallest tree, with an umbrella of leaves over her head.

The storms passed, the eggs hatched and my humming-bird mother continued to sit on her nest, keeping her two tiny babies warm.  The babies weren’t much to look at, so small I could hardly see them, but I could tell mom didn’t care about looks.  She’d fly off for food, snuggle back in the nest, and push her delicate beak down into the nest to feed them.  While all of this was happening, I was reading the book called “The Fastest Things on Wings” by Terry Masear.  Her book is funny, interesting and delightful.  Because of it, I knew what to expect from these amazing little birds.  If you have a backyard feeder I think you’ll enjoy this book.

My challenge was to figure out how I could photograph the babies.  My studio is on the second floor and trying to take a photo through a glass window doesn’t work very well. I decided to brace our tall ladder against the house near the nest, and climb up with my camera.  You can imagine how that went over when I asked my husband to put the ladder against the house. I didn’t get very far.

With me back in my studio, several weeks went by as I watched the babies grow.   I was beginning to think I might not get pictures.   Then I decided to remove the screen from the window furthest from the nest, use my telephoto lens, and lean out the window with my camera.  Success!

Just about the time I had all of this figured out, the mother hummingbird left the nest.  Thanks to Terry’s book I knew this was normal.  The mother returned every 30 minutes to feed her babies.

Then suddenly last week, my humming-bird nest became a hub of activity.  The babies were much more active, changing positions, pecking at the leaves over their heads, and preening.

The first baby tried out its wings, clinging to the side of the nest while flapping at a pretty good speed.

Then the second baby tried its wings, but more cautiously. Flapping away while still in the nest (not easy to do with a sibling right next to you).

Every 30 minutes mom was back to feed her “teens”.

Then a week ago it happened.  The first baby began sitting on a tiny bud of leaves just outside the nest.  Soon it was showing off its flight skills while its sibling looked on. Mom flew back to feed it and then baby was up and away!

Just one baby left, but mom was diligent with her feedings. It poured rain all night, and in the morning a soggy baby was still in the nest. Finally the sun came out, and when I looked baby number two was gone!   Mom came back to check on the nest, and then she was off. I was left feeling like an empty nester.

But, then the next day I saw them!  Both babies were sitting in the tree, flitting from branch to branch.  As I watched, mom returned and fed both babies!  She continued to do this off and on over a period of several days.  I read that the mother humming-bird spends this time teaching her babies where the best food can be found, the tastiest bugs and the sweetest nectar.  She’ll lead them to the humming-bird feeder and show them where to drink.  I see them in the tree less and less, but they still return with mom close by.  What a miracle of life these little birds are!

Hope you’re having a great weekend!  Happy Saturday everyone!

Anne

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  • Becky Stahlman - Amazing photos….wow!!!ReplyCancel

  • Brenda - Wow! thank you so much for sharing this wonderful experience.ReplyCancel

  • DeAnna Dodson - Awww, that’s precious! And what amazing pictures. I love birds. I used to have swallows nest on my porch. Usually they had about four babies. One year they had seven! I don’t know how they all managed to breathe in that tiny nest, much less get fed, but they all grew up fat and happy and then flew away.

    They left four or five years ago, don’t know why, and haven’t been back. I miss them.ReplyCancel

  • Janet Melanson - I really enjoyed this post and your photography…Thank you so much for sharing it 😊ReplyCancel

  • Hildy - You’re so lucky to have the chance to see them up close and over a period of time! Thaks for sharing your story and these beautiful pictures with us:-)ReplyCancel

  • Kim - Thank you for sharing this beautiful story and letting us have front row seats at the hummingbird theater!ReplyCancel

  • Mary T Salmon - Anne:
    This mother will be back next year. The babies will probably start a
    family there too. Marvelous photos! Thanks so much for
    sharing with us.
    Love,
    MaryReplyCancel

  • Linda Bird - Thank you, thank you, thank you!! We have feeders and so enjoy watching the various types of hummingbirds we attract each year. But your pictures of the fledging process are fantastic.ReplyCancel

  • Katherine - Oh Anne! What a treat- most of us will never be fortunate enough to see something so wonderful close up. So generous of you to share your beautiful photos.ReplyCancel

  • Marian - Hi Anne,

    thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story. I have shared it to my facebook timeline so others can read and look at the photos, well done on getting good quality photos when leaning out the window.

    Do you know what kind of Hummingbird they are?

    Best regards,

    Marian (NZ)ReplyCancel

  • Judy - You took awesome pictures! Aren’t hummingbirds amazing? We usually have 5 feeders going at once. Last summer, there must have been 20 showing up and sparring over particular feeders. I got a video of the chaos at one of them. I’m envious of your great pictures, and we’ve never spotted a nest here!ReplyCancel

  • Jan - Anne, How special for all of use to experience this thru you. The pictures are fabulous. Thank you so much for sharing. In our crazy lives it is so refreshing to have a second to stop and enjoy Mother Nature. You made my day.😊ReplyCancel

  • Laurel - Your pictures are AMAZING! Thank you so much for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Dawn - So lovely to read about this little family, I’ve never seen hummingbirds before, but your beautiful photos and words really brought them home to me, thank you so much Anne for sharing these beautiful little miracles of nature and such a special experience x XReplyCancel

  • Michele Timms - You are so lucky!!! Thanks for sharing!!ReplyCancel

  • Anita - Thank you for sharing your pictures and going to such great effort to get them. Have a nice weekend.ReplyCancel

  • neena simmons - THANKS!ReplyCancel

  • Karen S - Wow – what great photos, Anne, and a wonderful description of life from the nest. Thanks for sharing these!ReplyCancel

  • Little Quiltsong - Loved your post, Anne – and how you watched and recorded the proceedings :)! Glad you figured out a safe way to take your pictures! We occasionally have a hummingbird show up in the summer at one of our flowering trees, but nothing like your wonderful scene!! First robins showed up today – maybe spring is here to stay……we’ll see :)!ReplyCancel

  • Susan - What a great story! Thanks for sharing and for the photos :)ReplyCancel

  • Linda Hulen - Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures. How blessed you were to have such sights to see. God is amazing. Again, thank you so much.ReplyCancel

  • Tina - What a wonderful blessing to be able to see this miracle beginning to end! Such lovely photos too!ReplyCancel

  • BillieBee - So sweet. Excellent photography.ReplyCancel

  • Lea Kagel - What an accomplished photographer you are, Anne. These beautiful pictures are amazing! Mother Nature certainly teaches us about love, diligence and tenacity. Such sweet little creatures that can withstand such adversity is such a lesson to us all.

    That said, I am trying to be tenacious in typing this as my cat keeps walking on the keyboard, endeavoring to get my undivided attention-yikes. Anymore fur in my face and I’ll be sneezing for sure.

    XOReplyCancel

  • Denise - Nature humbles us all, and then gifts us with the most amazing sights! Your photography was spectacular, thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Linda Butler - What a wonderful story! Thanks for posting. I love hummingbirds. They should come back to Colorado around mid April to May. Your photos are great! I hope to capture some photos this summer.ReplyCancel

  • Marsha Jean - Thanks for sharing your babies with us! I have 4 feeders and they always have hummers visiting…they come within inches of us when we sit outside.ReplyCancel

  • Lois Walker - Thank you for sharing this sweet story of mom
    And babies! Just loved the awesome pictures!
    I am intrigued by these little marvelous birds!ReplyCancel

  • Penny in CA - Aww little hummingbirds ~ my favorite birds Anne! So beautiful & such perfect little creatures! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story with your wonderful pictures!ReplyCancel

  • Chris - My favorite bird, beautiful pictures. Send them to Birds and Blooms.ReplyCancel

  • Stacy Cox - Many thanks for sharing this special experience with us! Beautiful photos! I love hummingbirds, but they are too fast to admire in nature. Your pictures allow us to see up close the nursery scene in Spring. So cute and loving. Thank you again, Anne :)ReplyCancel

  • Anita - What amazing pictures and how lucky to be able to witness them grow up healthy and safe! You’ll need to keep us posted if they return or stay in the yard.ReplyCancel

  • Lace Faerie - Hummers are my joy! About 4 years ago i had an Anna that stayed all year! This winter i had three that stayed! Ive never spotted a nest, tho. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Marilyn - You have gotten some great pics of the little Hummies!
    We too love the little guys and put out 2 sugar-water feeders for them.
    Thanks for sharing the fantastic pics.
    MarilynReplyCancel

  • Susan Smith - What a sweet treat this post was! I loved the photos!!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Smith - Congratulations on being chosen to host a hummer nest! Such an honor, isn’t it? Some years ago I was fortunate to have a hummingbird build her nest in a hook that holds a hanging plant right outside our back door on our patio. The 1st year we had 3 eggs/babies. The amount of “droppings” under the nest was unbelieveable! Fortunately, all 3 grew up & “moved out”. I wasn’t sure what to do with the nest, but since it was now vacant I took it off of the hook & saved it. The following year, mama came back again! The 2nd nest had only 2 babies. Now, feeling like a veteran at the hosting game, we didn’t worry so much & really enjoyed the process. Once the 2nd nest had been vacated, I removed it & discovered a 3rd, unhatched egg in the bottom. The 2nd nest didn’t seem to be built as sturdy as the 1st one was. (Perhaps she began nest building later than the previous year?) I put both nests in a glass cloche & gave it to my mother, who loved hummingbirds. Thank you for sharing your story Anne; it brought back some great memories!ReplyCancel

  • Susan - What a wonderful story and experience to share with us! They are adorable. It’s great you were able to take some incredible pics and thanks for sharing with us!ReplyCancel

  • Karen Scott Kaplan - The magic of Mother Nature truly breathtaking. Spectacular photos Anne. xxxReplyCancel

  • Carole Crane - Dear Anne,
    Thanks so much for sharing your story, I love seeing the pictures, glad you didn’t have to get on the ladder everyday! We have three feeders up in the summer and at “peak” time I will make 8 cups of nectar a day, but I have never been able to see a nest. They are amazing. You need to make a hummingbird line of fabric with a quilt.ReplyCancel

  • Carmen - Oh, what a wonderful story & photos! Thank you so much for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • SuzieLou - Thank you for sharing this with us. It is something we rarely see. And you are such a great narrator.ReplyCancel

  • Nancy White - Wonderful pictures! Thank you so much for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Charlotte - Gorgeous photography. So glad you were able to get those lovely photos without climbing a ladder!! Enjoyed your narration also.

    Living in CA, we see a fair amount of hummingbirds in our yard but never a nest. Thanks for sharing your experience – it was wonderful.

    CharlotteReplyCancel

  • JudyCinNC - Oh how lucky were you to have such a phenomial experience right outside you window. I may have tried the ladder. Such beauty and wonderment and you got to see all. Thank you for sharing with us all. JudyCReplyCancel

  • mimi'sdarlins - What a lovely post, Anne, and your pictures are glorious! I’m sure the subjects would agree, especially considering how challenging your task was. A friend keeps a hummingbird garden in summer, just below her kitchen sink window. You’ve given me a great idea for her birthday gift in that book. Enjoy your sunday :)ReplyCancel

  • Lisa La Mie - I love that you had an experience with the great lives of Humming birds. I look forward to them the best each spring. Lots of plants keep them returning each year. Have a Happy Spring!!ReplyCancel

  • jayne cartier - We sped many hours each week watching our hummingbirds in our backyard. Fascination birds with so many interesting characteristics….thanks for sharing!!!ReplyCancel

  • jayne cartier - We spend many hours each week watching our hummingbirds in our backyard. Fascination birds with so many interesting characteristics….thanks for sharing!!!ReplyCancel

  • Linda - I love hummingbirds. We had special feeders for them at our old house but haven’t put up any since we’ve moved. The feeders we bought didn’t allow bugs to get in and only had tiny holes for feeding so no big birds could have their food/drink. My husband attached two shepherd’s hooks to our deck and often I would watch them from inside playing around. Families would visit. Our regular bird feeders were so popular that we had lots of different birds and even a couple woodpeckers! Yes! They would scare the other birds away. He was fun to watch also. It was thoroughly enjoyable for me to watch. I don’t go up and down steps anymore so I don’t know where we will hang the hummingbird feeders at this house. We have an enclosed deck so we can’t hang any there. But we will find a place and put them out.
    Thank you for all the lovely photos of them, I’m going to share your site with lots of friends who also are hummingbird lovers.ReplyCancel

  • JulieZ - Loved your story ! You were so lucky to get to watch this everyday! Hummingbirds are the best! And I’m sure, like me whenever some sweet bird builds a nest in my yard, you worried about them all the time!🙂
    Maybe they will continue to hang around your yard. Guess I’d better get my feeder loaded and ready to go .ReplyCancel

  • Karla - What an amazing story. I am still waiting for the humming birds to return to my part of the country. I usually have several feeders,get several little birds, but never have been lucky to have the nest and privileged to watch them grow.
    Wonderful pics, thanks ever so much for sharing.
    KarlaReplyCancel

  • Kristen - Just Beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Alice Garcia - I love the pictures and story of your hummingbirds! What a joyful experience!ReplyCancel

  • Barbara Yoder - Thank you for sharing your experience and pictures with us. I enjoy watching the hummingbirds at my feeder and on the flowers, but I don’t think I’ll ever have the opportunity to see the babies. Now I feel, through your narrative and pictures, that I have. Thank you, thank you!!ReplyCancel

  • Kathleen O'Grady - That is so awesome! Looking forward to seeing our wee little feathered friends again this summer.ReplyCancel

  • Pat Triska - I just moved and had to leave my hummingbird feeder behind. I do miss them. They are really friendly. When I would go outside they would get right in front of me and seem to check me out. How wonderful that you could see babies being born and learn how to fly. I can’t have a feeder where I am living now. I may try to sneak one in a plant that I will put on my patio and hope a hummingbird finds it. I have a wonderful bird shop within a mile of my apartment so I will check it out to see what kind of feeders they have. Thanks for all the great pictures.ReplyCancel

  • Diane Meyer - My husband and I really enjoyed the pictures. We have hummingbirds here at our farm. I need to put a second feeder out. They are very territorial. We love watching them. I was surprised when I heard the tiny sound they make. Thanks again!ReplyCancel

  • Lynette - Wow! What a marvelous treat to have that nest and little family right there by you. Thank you so much for sharing this – definitely a magical post.ReplyCancel

  • Melanie Moraites - Thank you for sharing this beautiful story and your amazing photos!ReplyCancel

  • Dawn - Amazing photos Anne. A lovely post to read and re read, very special moments, thank youReplyCancel

  • Kate - Awesome shots! Of course, you know how fortunate you are to have these beautiful little creatures to watch over. Many thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - Enjoyed photos. We had a humming bird nest in our ficus last year and loved watching the family. Tiny creatures that bring so much joy. We have several hummers who feed at our feeders and what fun to watch their dive bombing, etc. Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Amy from Salem - Hi Anne, I really enjoyed this blog, I adore Hummingbirds. I walk my dog twice a day and we have several resident Hummingbirds in our park that I keep an eye out for. I would love to have the opportunity to watch a nest. Makes me think I need to pay closer attention.ReplyCancel

  • Helen LeBrett - thanks for sharing those wonderful pictures and your observations of the hummingbirds: I loved it! Hummingbirds are such amazing little creatures. Hugs, H in HealdsburgReplyCancel

  • Lorie - Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful picture of those sweet humming birds! They are precious and my favorite bird❤❤ReplyCancel

  • fannie jane - Oh my gosh those birds are so sweet. Even just looking at the pictures I took a deep breath and felt relaxed. Something about nature, especially birds, is so refreshing to me.ReplyCancel

  • Brigitte - Wow, what awesome photos. I have a nest in my Quince tree and I don’t think I will ever be able to photograph them. I love the sound they make signaling they are there. One of natures most beautiful wonders. Thank you for sharing.ReplyCancel