Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Lookout

It would seem they’re all alone in the world.
Two tiny baby hummingbirds, sleeping soundly beneath a leafy canopy.
Eyes still closed, tucked securely into their inch and a half-wide nest--a stretchy spider web structure lined with plant down.
Snug and warm as a fine woolen cap.
On a long, low branch of the old sugar maple.

From 40 feet across the yard, she watches, perched on a twig at the very tip of a slender, crooked branch of lichen-covered locust.

Without leaves, it makes the perfect lookout.
And forms the third point of a triangle, with the nest and porch feeders.

All day long, she returns to this spot, feeding every 10 to 15 minutes--then preening in the bright sunshine.

She visits the nest only every 90 minutes or so—standing at the rim just long enough to feed her young from her crop, before disappearing again across the yard.

It surprises me that she no longer spends time here, as she did when they were 2 small eggs.
Perhaps she trusts the warmth of the woolly nest she has given them to snuggle them when she cannot.
And, as inactive as they still are, knows they need less nourishment than she.
Or perhaps, being the sole parent, time is best spent being vigilant--rather than resting with them beneath the low, leafy branches.

Daily nest photos are posted to the slideshow in my sidebar.

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KGMom said...

Nina--the photos are absolutely amazing, stunning. Wondrous.
I saw the first hummingbird of the season here--flitting ever so quickly around some flame red flowers--then gone.

Your EG Tour Guide said...

I wouldn't have guessed that the little ones could survive only being visieted once every 90 minutes or so. That's an eye opener!

Beth said...

This whole series has given us access into a hidden world. Thank you for all your patience and pictures.

NCmountainwoman said...

Wonderful photos of these marvelous little birds. Don't let anything happen...I'm getting pretty attached to them.

Lynne said...

I'm feeling quite attatched to them too.
It looks like their tiny beaks are starting to elongate- like Pinocchio!

nina said...

I'm pretty attached, too.
And trying to maintain distance, yet watch closely. Fortunately our porch is like a tree house--putting us up in the trees and part of their world.
My biggest concern is the snakes that patrol this area--I've already removed 2!

Do you see the beginnings of wing feathers on the little baby toward the top of the picture?
And a slit of an eyeball in the second nest shot?

Oooo--the things a camera can show!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

It is good to see that they are doing so well. We have a hummer that sits on the yellow trumpet vine in our garden for long periods of time. I wonder where her nest is?? I see her fly to the wooded lot across the street from us. I have looked to no avail. I need your eagle eyes to spot the nest for me.

Susan Gets Native said...

Bless their tiny heads.

I just KNOW there is a nest here somewhere. In past years, they have built in a maple in the back yard....but they didn't even try last year (too dry, I guess). They are out there in the trees somewhere!

bobbie said...

I am surprised to learn that she doesn't spend more time with them.

So few hummers around this year. I was excited to see one yesterday at my feeder. We're told the population is way down this year.

Sandy's Notes said...

What an experience to see and watch a hummingbird's nest. Thanks for sharing this!

nina said...

From what I know and have heard of others' experiences, the key to finding a nest is spending time in the area of the nest.
As Mama returns, she flies a mini triangle--not going directly onto the nest. First here, then there, then to the nest.
Check for a bump on long, low branches, not much wider than a finger and about 10 feet off ground.

What a magnificent find!

Mary said...

Wow...this is so fascinating! Beautiful photos.

Anonymous said...

I love the shot of the babies screaming for their mother.

zhakee said...

Your hummingbird family saga is a wonderful ongoing adventure. I am enjoying your photos that peek directly into the nest. Is this nest accessible from your porch that you can look directly into it?

dguzman said...

Nina, I love this series! Please don't let the snakes get them! I haven't seen any hummers in my yard this year at all, though I have more flowers than ever. ?

Bird Feeder Scott said...

You may be right that the hummingbird is watching for prey. The little hummers are so small. Breathtaking shots of the nest! I'm going to have to go back and read up about these little guys. Thanks for sharing!

nina said...

I can watch the nest and the mother easily from the porch, though they're several feet away.
The close-up nest shots are a bit of a challenge. It is hidden well directly beneath leaves, so the mother and nest are protected from rain. And the maple tree is well-leafed right now, and stands close to a huge sycamore, which also overhangs the branch. (very shady) I cannot see into the nest, even from "my" perch--I hold the camera high, point and shriek with glee when the screen reveals what I cannot see any other way.
Might I add, that in addition to the wonders of hummingbirds, I am being taught patience.

zhakee said...

Ahaa! The point and click at the unknown routine! I do that at times too. I love what modern cameras can do with that point and click method. Your photos are revealing wonderful sites to so many of us. Having a porch up high is nice. My porch is elevated too, but we have no bird nests in the tree off the porch. My porch tree is so full of good things to eat no bird would feel safe having a nest there. Lucky you. I love hummingbirds and we get huge numbers passing through, but no babies in porch nests. Keep up with the photos, I am loving seeing the little hummingbirds develop.

Beverly said...

Ya know, I have squirrels, and the little sonsawenches get EVERYWHERE. My apple tree is sporting naked branches way up high…where squirrels fed this winter. And my feeders are quickly emptied and edges chewed…where squirrels get greedy. I have snakes, too; but while I know they climb…I worry about the squirrels. They’re everywhere!

It is for that reason that I wonder if, like fawns…young birds have no scent? I see them shoot over the nest rim, or understand they create ‘packets’; bird feces-pouches for parents to remove and drop far from the nest. Could this be for more than just ‘sanitation’? Perhaps it is a design to throw off hunters with sensitive noses?

Thanks again for doing what you do, Nina...this is just spectacular!


nina said...

These little guys are the point-and-shoot type. I've seen it several times--their aim, far from the nest.
Mama patrols well, buzzing cardinals and chickadees anywhere near her branch--knocking them to the ground. And wrens hopping beneath, until they scoot away.

We have a ton of squirrels, too--but they stay to the woods, with the chipmunks.

I've begun walking our huge dog underneath the nest--thought maybe his scent would make the tree off-limits to exploring.

Little does he know, his 112 lbs may be safety to these tiny babies.

kate smudges said...

It's wonderful that you can observe the hummingbird so closely ... what a treat it must be to have the nest so close to you.

Mary said...

Nina, how did I miss this?

It's downright wonderful. I've been scanning the branches looking for a cup. Oh, I wish...



Kenton and Rebecca said...

This would be a dream come true -- we've always tried to find a hummingbird nest! It is truly a work of art, and looks so cozy =) What a gift. You've inspired us to really search carefully this year -- just to see a nest like that would be so amazing. Thanks for this beautiful post.