If you are lucky enough to get to enjoy watching a hummingbird build her nest and tend to her little ones, you’ll never forget it. It’s tough enough to see the tiny hummers in action, let alone when they are trying to hide from the rest of the world and protect their family. Here we’ll explore how the hummingbird builds her nest that is unlike any other species of bird.
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Once hummingbirds return from the migration season in the spring, they find a hummingbird to start courting, and soon they’ll be searching for a place to build a nest. But before they can start doing any socializing, they’ll want to regain their strength from the long travels and feed on a lot of nectar. Remember, during this time you’ll see more hummers than usual, but once the nest is built and the eggs are laid, you’ll see the action at your feeder slow down.
The location that hummingbird mothers choose to build their nest is going to be crucial when protecting their eggs. While grown hummingbirds have many predators, so do their eggs. The mother has to be sure that the place she chooses to build the hummingbird nest is out of the way and out of plain sight. She will make sure that snakes, ants, large birds, and other animals that feed on eggs and small birds won’t have easy access.
They’ll also have to ensure the nest they build is in place that can withstand heavy winds, is protected from the rain, and is placed in the Y crossing of a branch since it is the strongest. They’ll repeatedly test out the nest’s strength by landing in it over and over before a single egg is laid.
Hummingbirds gather a lot of materials to build their nest like moss, hair from leaves, cotton, willow pieces, lichen, and spiders silk. Once the mother hummingbird builds the soft base, she will use the spider’s silk to bind it all together. This is a great way for the little hummer to easily repair the nest in case it gets damaged. The spider’s silk offers glue-like qualities for the nest. Plus, their web is strong enough to provide a solid component that can stretch the nest out while the babies get larger, while staying in tact.
When a new mother wants to learn how to build a nest, she’ll find a hummingbird who knows what she is doing and watch from a distance to observe the location she has picked out, the materials she is gathering, and the way she builds the nest. Once the new hummingbird has learned everything she can by observing the experienced mother, she will often steal parts of the nest to use for her own. In fact, it is not uncommon at all for female hummingbirds to steal material from others and use them in the nest they working on.
The final steps
Once the nest is almost complete, the mother will use pieces of her body to work and mold the nest to fit her needs and the eggs perfectly. She will press it with her wings and dig into the center with her chest. And even though hummingbirds almost never use their feet for walking, this is one time when a female hummingbird will use her feet to pack down the nest to make it solid and help form the structure.
Mother hummingbirds will spend about a week building their nests, and it can be a forty-hour job. And all the while they are protecting their bodies that have the eggs growing inside them! If the eggs come a little early, then they do the best they can to continue building the nest and protect their eggs. Once their babies have hatched, if they find themselves carrying new eggs while tending to young hummingbirds, they’ll start building another nest nearby. Some will reuse their old nest, if it survives, for the next year or two, others will prefer to build in new locations each year.
If you want to help out mother hummingbirds, you can buy a hummingbird nest and place it somewhere that will be safe for them to raise their babies. Don’t be surprised if they don’t go to it right away, because they will be leery of nesting so close to your home. They might even steal pieces of the paint on your home to make sure they match the natural landscape the hummingbird house is in. If you do decide to help out, don’t get frustrated if they don’t use the hummingbird nest right away, it can take years for hummingbirds to trust it. Be patient and they will come.