Anna’s Hummingbird Babies: From Eggs to Empty Nest

Anna's hummingbird babies, around Day 19

As I wrote last month, we were extremely fortunate to have a little Anna’s hummingbird build her tiny nest — smaller than an espresso cup — in a rhododendron shrub, just steps from a window. In February, binoculars and camera in hand, we watched and photographed as she finished the intricately woven and structurally sound nest, anchored to a branch with strong and stretchy spider silk, and carefully and lovingly camouflaged with lichen. On February 20 it appeared that her beautiful nest was complete and incubation of two navy bean-sized eggs had begun. Mama hummingbirds typically sit on their eggs for 14 to 19 days.

About 18 days later, I saw her perched on the edge of her nest, apparently regurgitating a slurry of nectar from nearby native currant flowers and partially digested insects or spiders (high in protein) into her babies. I couldn’t actually see them at that point since the nest was about eight feet off the ground and they were so small. At this early stage she would feed both nestlings (hummingbirds almost always have two), fly off, and come back with more food within 60 seconds or so. After she and the nestlings had been fed adequately, she’d return and stay on the nest awhile since they were nearly naked and in dire need of warmth.

Later that week we saw her offspring for the first time, with their dinosauric heads and just the start of future feathers. Even at this age, still completely helpless and blind, their instincts are strong: They are able to keep their nest clean by wriggling their little bottoms toward the edge of the nest and squirting their poop outside of it.

Anna's hummingbird babies, around Day 7

Anna's hummingbird and one of her babies, around Day 7

 

Later, about ten days after hatching and when the nestlings’ barbs began to look like feathers, Mom no longer stayed on the nest — during the day, anyway — most likely because her babies now had the ability to regulate their own body temperature. I imagine she was also not too keen on having her underside poked by pointy bills!

Ann's hummingbird and her babies, around Day 12

Anna's hummingbird babies, around Day 13

 

We continued to watch her feed them, first pumping food up into her throat, then aiming her long bill into their gaping orange mouths and straight down their throats. She resembled a sewing machine needle as she repetitively pushed food into them, never spilling a drop. Ouch!

Anna's hummingbird feeding her babies, around Day 18

 

References state that Anna’s hummingbirds fledge within 18 to 28 days after hatching. On the morning of what I believe was Day 23, I watched one of them sit on the edge of the nest and flap his/her wings with such gusto that I thought the time had come. A rainstorm came and went, but they remained in the nest, sitting with their bills pointed directly upwards, nearly vertical; occasionally they’d shake off raindrops but maintained their pose. Brave and undaunted, they also endured fairly heavy wind and a short, but pounding, hail storm.

Anna's hummingbird babies, around Day 22

 

On what was probably Day 24, I saw one of them, for the first time, venture out of the nest and onto the branch right next to the nest. Even though the nest was designed to stretch as the nestlings grew, it was getting tight. Surely they are leaving now, I thought!

Anna's hummingbirds babies, around Day 23

 

They left the nest on Day 25. When they took off I was, disappointingly, in the shower at the time. Just before they left I noticed them preening their breast feathers meticulously, no doubt to make themselves more aerodynamic and ready themselves for life on the wing.

Anna's hummingbird babies, around Day 23

 

Mom feeds them for a week or so post fledging, so they are on their own by now. I still look for them in the garden and high in the trees, but it’s hard to say who’s who—fledglings’ bills and tails are shorter than adults’ and they have no red on their throats, but they may almost resemble female adults by now. Reportedly, the siblings may stay together until autumn, and then they separate for good. Have a good life, sweet babies!

Anna's hummingbird babies, around Day 20

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UPDATE: March 29, 2017
It’s been two years since I wrote the above post. This year a female Anna has again built a nest in the same shrub, although the nest is harder to see as it’s a little higher up and has more leaves partially blocking our view. I’ve watched the nest as best I can, and judging by what looked like pumping (feeding) movements, I believe at least one of her babies hatched on March 6. Photographing them has been very difficult due to the nest position, as well as the plague of unusually cold, wet weather. In the early part of March I watched her as she searched for insects everywhere in the yard and she spent more time away from her nestlings than the mom two years ago did. This made me wonder if she might be having trouble finding protein (in the form of little insects and spiders), which are essential for the babies’ development, as well as her health. Sugar water or flower nectar alone is completely inadequate.

After about 10 days had passed, I could just barely make out a beak in the nest reaching skyward toward Mama, ready with food. I never saw more than one mouth at a time, which I thought to be a little odd, and wondered if both eggs had hatched. At Day 12 my husband, Rick, managed to get some photos of Anna feeding them, and there is evidence of two mouths, although one is in poor focus and looks like it may not be fully open, even though Mama looked ready to deliver. I was relieved to know that there were two hatchlings, but I continued to see her feeding only one at a time; this worried me because two years ago both of her young were highly visible during each feeding (as the photos above show).

A week later, on March 25, Rick was again photographing the nest and grew concerned when he repeatedly saw her feeding only one baby. With his cell phone taped to a stick, he held it horizontally above the nest while Mom was away and managed to get a short video of the nest. I’m very sad to report that there was only one baby present; the other must have died from lack of protein due to the shortage of insects during the non-stop cold weather. I do not know if the mother, sensing that one was weak and knowing she couldn’t feed them both adequately, chose to stop feeding the weak one so that one would survive, or if the baby was too weak to gape and receive food and eventually died. It’s also slightly possible that the baby was stunted from the beginning (possibly due to too small a yolk). It’s impossible to say for sure, but regardless, it was heartbreaking for this animal lover to realize that someone starved to death right outside her house. I do accept that nature can be harsh—especially during the winter—and I’m glad that the baby didn’t die due to direct human disturbance, but this is just another reason to grow native plants that supply drastically more insects than non-native species.

As I write this, the brave little baby that’s endured the cold still sits alone in the tiny nest that should be filled with a brother or sister. Mom no longer stays on the nest, but she still feeds him/her about every 20-30 minutes. Waiting is the hardest part … waiting for the day that s/he feels strong enough to take to the air and discover the world. I hope I get to see that flight, and I hope it’s on a warm, sunny day.

The baby fledged the very next day, which was a fairly warm, dry one. The following day, curiosity got the best of us. Using a ladder, we inspected the abandoned nest since our nosing around wouldn’t distress anyone. Sure enough, there—at the bottom of the little nursery—was the baby who had died, a dried up little body barely an inch long. Since then I’ve noticed a smallish single hummer in my yard on occasion, and once, while I was walking around the back yard with my little cat in my arms, we stopped to watch this particular bird feeding at blueberry blossoms. S/he grew very interested and circled around us, just 18 inches away from our faces! 

Anna’s hummingbirds typically have 2 or 3 broods per year, and there is another Anna’s hummingbird nest now in a neighbor’s small tree close to a stairway that leads to our back yard. I can’t be sure, but I think it is the mama who nested in our yard, doing her best to raise another couple of healthy chicks.   —ES

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ANOTHER UPDATE: February 18, 2018
New nest! Maybe I ought to just write a fresh post—this seems to be turning into a hummingbird diary!

It’s one year later and the new nest is in my neighbor’s magnolia tree just above their fence on the property line. Rick noticed it on February 10 and thought she might still be constructing it, but on closer inspection it appeared to be finished. The next day, when Mom was off feeding, he put his phone on a stick to take a short video above the nest, and there they were: Two gleaming white eggs that resemble tiny mint candies. Perhaps the mild winter weather we’d been experiencing (with daytime temperatures around 60ºF!) encouraged this early endeavor, but Anna’s often nest very early in California, their historic home.

There had been a nest in the same tree the previous summer, but it was very difficult to view as the tree was fully leafed out. This new nest is in the open due to leaflessness and proximity (near the end of a branch, just above our driveway and recycling bins), so we’ve got a good view. But the sight is bittersweet right now (Feb. 18): Though magnolia flower buds are developing, they provide absolutely no protection for Mom and her nest. Cold, wintery weather is back and I imagine she’s fairly miserable. But I have to remind myself that she’s a tough, stoic little bird, she has the ability to go into torpor at night to conserve heat, and her eggs have not yet hatched. I’m hoping they will stay inside their little life support systems until later this week, when the temperatures will be a bit higher and insects will likely be easier for Mom to find.

February 19: She made it through a cold, snowy night and she’s still on the eggs. The red-flowering currant shrubs haven’t started blooming, so my sugar water feeders are well-stocked and are put outside soon after sunrise (to prevent freezing). Since we don’t know when the eggs were laid, they could hatch anytime between now and the end of the month.

Anna snow

One snowy morning …

 

February 20: Watching from my driveway, I now see her feeding someone, so at least one has hatched. But we’re in the middle of a winter storm that’s brought snow, and temps that will dip into the 20s tonight. I worry because insects and itsy-bitsy spiders are not plentiful when it’s so cold and the most common cause of nestling mortality is lack of protein (as we painfully learned last year). Hopefully Mom will persevere and be able to get both of them fat and sassy. Will keep you posted!

February 23: The nestlings are now at Day 3, and as far as I can tell, they’re doing well. Mom is definitely away from the nest longer than the first time I watched a hummer nest (as much as 7 minutes), but she comes back every couple of minutes during her forages to make sure no predators are near the nest. Standing on a ladder, I can now partially see the babies’ heads as they are fed.
Day 3

 

 
 

March 1: Sadly, my fear has been realized: One of the babies has died. For the past couple of days I’d only been able to see her feed one nestling; yesterday we took a video with a phone taped to a stick and it’s clear that there is now just one alive. Sigh. Anna’s hummingbirds’ historical range is from Baja to San Francisco but they’ve expanded their range north reportedly due to artificial feeders and the planting of nonnatives that bloom when natives have finished. Unfortunately the expansion sometimes has deadly consequences.

The remaining baby looks okay. It’s still quite cold but will warm up a bit soon. The red-flowering currant blossoms should be opening any day now and insects should be easier to find.

March 7: It’s warmed up a bit and the baby is definitely growing. Today his/her eyes are open! Though it’s not very warm, Mom is staying off the nest during the day, but she’s on at night since it’s so cold and the little one hasn’t a sibling to snuggle with.  Day 14 or 15

 

March 8: Today is very windy and rainy but Mom is on the nest most of the time. This weekend will be much better for Baby: warmer, dry, and sunny—just what’s needed.

March 16: Major growth is happening, but I think this baby will be on the nest for another week or more. This is Day 23, a day when many hummers are able to fledge, but since this baby had such a rough start in life, s/he will likely need much more time in the nest. The nights have been quite cold but feathers are filling in.
Day 24

March 23: Baby’s feathers are really filling in and s/he looks softer, rounder. Yesterday, after preening (or perhaps biting at parasites) Baby stretched his/her wings and was almost able to lift off the nest! At nightfall, Baby had to endure a hail storm and I think it rained through most of the night … if only s/he wasn’t stuck in that nest and could find some evergreen shelter during this nasty weather, as older birds do! I keep hoping for some warm spring weather. Even though Baby is now 30 days old, the bill and feathers need to grow more and I estimate that it will be 3 to 4 days before fledging.
Day 30
Day 30

March 25: My heart is heavy with grief today. The stoic little baby who lost his sibling and tolerated so much harsh weather is dead. I believe he died on Friday night during some nasty cold rain and hail. Saturday I saw him hunkered down in the nest to keep warm, or so I thought … while taking photos today I found him in the same position and not moving. What a terrible little life he had, unable to leave the nest during what must have been a nightmare to him. It’s also possible that something happened to Mom, but I suspect the former, since nest mortality is high. We’ll never know. I buried his tiny little body with a sprig of red-flowering currant flowers, something he would have loved. R.I.P sweet little one.

[Addendum: It is two months later, and for the first time I’ve witnessed the feeding of a baby who had apparently left the nest that day. Tiny little “peeps” were heard coming from our fig tree, but I couldn’t locate the baby until Mom swooped in to feed. After Baby was fed she left, but returned about 20 minutes later when the call for food resumed. This went on for the rest of the day, with Baby in the same tree. The same peeps were heard for many days afterwards, but in different trees. Apparently this baby’s sibling also must have died (hummers typically lay two eggs), but s/he looks strong and healthy.]


© 2018 Eileen M. Stark

 
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148 thoughts on Anna’s Hummingbird Babies: From Eggs to Empty Nest

  1. Hello,
    I came across your blog searching for information about hummingbirds possibly nesting in winter. Your pictures and narrative are so fantastic — I will definitely bookmark this for future reference! I’m pretty sure I saw a fledgling this morning — maybe about a month out of the nest. That would mean that the eggs would have hatched in December. On one hand, this seems unlikely. On the other hand, we know pretty definitively that the Anna’s have significantly adjusted their migration habits in just a few decades, so who knows!?!

    There were a few things that made me think this was a fledgling. It had a shorter beak, slightly ruffled feathers and looked like some down left, and it’s gorget was just coming in. As I watched him defend the feeder a female flew up. At first he tried to chase her away, but she was not deterred. They sat on the same wire about 8 inches apart — he seemed to be ‘yelling’ at her and had his beak open. At first I thought it was an aggressive behavior, then I thought it could be his mom and he was instinctively opening his beak towards her!

    I’ve never seen behavior like this before — these little guys are so fascinating!

    Reply
  2. I very much enjoyed reading your blogs…I stumbled across to you because I was wondering if hummingbirds mourn? I have been hummingbirding for years, love them. Always cleaning feeders every couple days and giving fresh food. Yesterday I found a smaller hummer laying against my garage door. The little one was lifeless as I scooped it up. But it’s tiny body was not hard. I brought the little hummer inside and tried cleaning the sticky web stuff that was on its face and wings. I tried dipping the tip of beak in fresh sugar water I had made earlier. My heart hurt so much, the little hummer didn’t make it. I buried little hummer today. Haven’t seen the other two that were here every day all summer. If they were little hummers parents- did they leave because in mourning?
    So sad 😞
    I am glad that I stumbled onto your site; thank you for sharing with others ❤️

    Reply
    1. Happy to report back that the couple are back !!! Buzzing all around the garden, sunflowers, butterfly bushes and flowers.. glad they are back and ok… still sad for the little one ❤️ Terrible feeling in ur belly when u try and they not make it..

      Reply
    2. I’m sure birds mourn–maybe not the way we do, but I once heard the most mournful cries coming from a female robin after her babies had been taken from her nest. I’ll never forget it. Does your garage door have windows in it? If so, please make it so they are not reflective (you can read my post entitled “Killer Windows”). Chances are, since breeding season is about over, that the adults are simply checking out other areas. Hopefully you will see them again soon.

      Reply
  3. I enjoyed reading your blog so much! We have 2 babies currently in a nest on our front porch! The babies hatched about 8 days ago ( give or take a few days) Mama hummingbird has been present often and we have seen her feeding the babies. Today, I have not seen her at the nest once. I was worried about the babies and videoed them once this evening and they were both breathing and moving. Several hours later and I haven’t seen the mama feed them. I videoed them again and it appeared that one of them wasn’t moving. I was concerned, but did just pass a finger along its beak and did see a tongue come out, but minimal movement compared to the second baby. Should I be concerned that something has happened to the mama hummingbird?

    Reply
    1. Morgan, I’m sorry to hear this and I hope by the time you read this there will have been feedings. Is it possible that you simply missed seeing Mom come by? They often don’t spend a lot of time at the nest. If not, there’s nothing you can really do except call a local wildlife rehabilitation and/or Audubon society chapter and ask for their advice. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

      Reply
  4. Eileen,
    Thank you so much for this sweet blog.😊
    I love the way you write/think. I also appreciate how you garden, keeping our wild neighbors in mind. Keep on. blogging 💜

    Reply
    1. Thank you, Theresa, for stopping by and for your appreciation! I hope to continue my blog for many years to come.

      Reply
  5. I just stumbled on your blog looking for answers about my mama hummingbird and her babies. We have been watching them since they were a few days old. They grew so big and adorable! We knew they were very close to leaving the nest, but when I was in the garden yesterday, I inadvertently spooked the babies and they apparently both flew away (my daughter happened to be watching from the window inside and saw them fly away.) I saw one land in a nearby tree. Now I’m watching mama feed frequently on our salvia plants near the garden (which she was using to feed the babies from.) She’s flying around to nearby trees, and seems a little frantic to me. I’m concerned that she might not know where the babies went. In your experience, is it usually that difficult for mama to find the babies when they fly away? I feel bad for spooking them and hope they are okay. We miss them already.

    Reply
    1. Hi Cheryl, it sounds like the babies were ready to go when they saw you, so don’t feel too bad. She probably seems frantic because she has two babies to feed in different places (although hummingbirds always seem a bit frantic to me!). I’ve been lucky and have seen and photographed a mama feeding a baby several times. She can hear their little calls for food and you might too; if I recall, it’s a high pitched call and seems to happen every 20 minutes or so (you may have to sit quietly for awhile to try to hear them). But sometimes they may go off into other areas not very close to your house, so you may not hear them at all. I do hope you’ll see them again.

      Reply
  6. This question is about an Anna female.
    I have an Anna female I believe, for the past week and a half she comes at dawn to the feeder and leaves at dusk. She “sits” there all day. She is not a bully to the other hummers, female and males come to drink. No matter what the weather she just sits there. I see her drink occasionally. I can walk up to her about a foot or even less away from the feeder. She just looks at me. I tell her I need to change out the feeder ( this is about every 3 days) she flies off to the nearest branch waits for me to make the exchange and flies back. I worry as I never see her fluttering about as the other birds do. This is going on the 3rd feeder exchange so 9 days that I have noticed her. She appears to be ok. Tongue in mouth. Fluffy. But rain, wind or sun she just sits there. I worry about her water intake too.
    I can’t find anything on a hummer that does this.

    May 7, 2021 at 9:02 AM

    Reply
    1. I not sure what’s going on with this hummingbird, but I encourage you to grow regional native plants with flowers that appeal to them, rather than offering sugar water (which can go bad in as little as 24 hours in hot weather). There are many nutrients found in real nectar that aren’t in refined sugar water and it would be a shame if she had a nutritional deficiency of some kind. That said, she surely must also be eating little soft-bodied insects and spiders that are a main part of their diet. Here’s a little more info: https://sweet-seed.com/blog/what-is-real-hummingbird-nectar-made-of-anyway/. Hope that helps.

      Reply
  7. I watched 2 hummingbirds grow up for weeks. I covered the tree they were in with plastic to protect them from the wind, rain, cold. They were ready to fly away and last night they disappeared. The mom this morning is looking for them. Do you think they flew away or maybe a preditor got them. What kind of preditor would be out at night and would they take them at this age and would they take both. Do you think maybe they just were able to fly away on their own. Mom is still searching the yard for them. I am worried.

    Reply
    1. You say they were ready to fly away … so you must know how hold they were? If they were old enough (18 to 28 days), then they certainly could have fledged. Covering the tree with plastic could have drawn attention to the nest so I would advise not doing that again! I have no idea where you live so can’t comment on any nocturnal predators, but if they were old enough it’s likely that they left on their own. Keep an eye out for them.

      Reply
  8. I have a nest with 2 babies. Yesterday they were 15 days old. I found them both lying on the concrete and nest on the ground. It seemed the nest broke from the bottom and the birds fell out. I put the nest back together the best I could and put in the plant pot because I couldn’t get it back in the limb. One baby seemed to have a hurt wing. I put them both in the nest. The momma found them and fed them both yesterday. This morning one is dead. Do I leave it? Or do I take it out of the meat and dispose of it? Poor baby I think it was the one with hurt wing. I feel horrible!

    Reply
    1. Jennifer, I’d advise leaving the nest alone. As you probably read, we had a baby who didn’t make it and s/he just dried up and did no harm to the other nestling. In nature, no one would remove it, so there’s no reason that you should. Very sorry to hear of this; perhaps Mom couldn’t find enough spider silk or was inexperienced with nest-building.

      Reply
    2. Pasadena, Ca.
      Last year (2020), a hummingbird made a nest in a potted ficus tree next to my truck, under a carport. Two babies hatched and flew away. The nest became stretched out and beat up, but I left it as it was, more as a souvenir. Then, this March (2021) I saw a hummingbird sitting in the same nest. The nest was repaired and made tighter than before. Two new babies hatched and are growing fast. I think it’s amazing that it came back to the same nest.

      Reply
  9. Hello. I live in California where a momma hummingbird has built a nest on the wire of a string of lights that drapes across my awning. It is just outside the sliding door of my kitchen. I can’t see any babies yet but she comes back with stuff in her beak and dips her head into the nest. Your post makes me think that maybe there are babies in the nest now. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Hi there Julie,

      For three years now, a mamma hummingbird has chosen to build her nest on a wire of a string of Christmas lights too! The location is never the exact location as the previous year, but pretty darn close! The lights are somewhat protected under the awning.
      Can anyone tell me if fledged babies when returning to a nest as adults have their own babies?

      Reply
  10. Hello!
    We have since moved to an incredibly beautiful farm in rural Middle Tennessee. We do have hummers yet not this early! I know Eileen will reach out to you as she is the one with major experience regarding the hummers. I certainly hope all is O.K. We do have cardinals here in bright red and blue blue blue birds and several other species I had never encountered in SoCal. Bird-watching is just as fun, yet different! My best to you and the babies!

    Reply
  11. Hi! I live in the PNW and a sweet little Anna’s Hummingbird has built a nest on my patio. The problem is that she began sitting on it on June 2 and it is now July 22. I covertly checked the nest on June 27 by taking a picture with a camera mounted on a telescoping stick and there were two eggs in the nest. I checked again yesterday with the same method and the two eggs were still there. She still sits on the nest night and day with feeding breaks throughout the day. I’m guessing the eggs are not viable but my question is will she push out the eggs if they are not viable and try again? Or what should I do? I’m concerned for her health particularly and also feel so sorry for her.

    Reply
    1. Aww, that’s so sad! I doubt very much that she will push out the eggs and try again since it’s so late in the breeding season. There’s nothing you can do or should do. Sometimes birds lay unfertilized eggs and we just have to accept that sometimes this happens. I would leave the nest alone as she or other hummingbirds may make use of an old nest, using parts of it in their new nests. She will abandon the nest soon but hopefully have better luck next year.

      Reply
  12. Thank you so much for sharing this! The photos are absolutely beautiful. There is a hummingbird nest right outside of my doorway. I was sad to find that over the weekend, one of the babies seems to have died. It is unmoving in the nest… Will the mother remove it?

    Are hummingbirds sensitive to humans? I’m terrified to think that I might’ve disturbed the babies, although I never touched the birds or the nest at all, just peeked over every once in a while to see how the babies were doing while the mother was away.

    Reply
    1. Caroline, I’m sure peeking at the nest now and then while she was away did not cause the death. Hummingbirds are actually quite tolerant of humans. Chances are, it may have been lack of enough protein in the form of insects. You can help provide insects by growing regional native plants, especially trees and shrubs. Of course the baby might have had another issue. As I wrote, when one of the babies died in our yard, she could not remove it. I hope the other baby does well!

      Reply
      1. I wrote a few days ago. Sadly, both of the babies died. The first one died over the weekend, and then the mom seemed to have abandoned the nest after a day or two, so the second one died as well. Very very sad, wish I could’ve done something to help!

        Reply
        1. I’m very sorry to hear this, Caroline. Most likely it was because of a lack of native insects, which are crucial for nestling development. This article is about a recent study of a different bird, but nearly all land birds need insects, especially during breeding season. “The authors say that artificially providing insect-rich food for birds in cities may not be the best solution. “Instead of directly supplying high-quality bird food to enhance urban birds’ breeding success, we believe that management activities that aim to increase the abundance of insects in the birds’ environment, would be more effective. Insects are the cornerstone of healthy and complex ecosystems and it is clear that we need more in our cities.” You can do something to help: grow regionally native trees and shrubs in your yard.

          Reply
          1. It’s interesting that I just stumbled onto this post. I’ve just had two Anna’s fledge from a nest this past week. Originally, just by accident, I came across a small nest, only about two feet off the ground, in an Oleander bush. Looking in the nest I saw two tiny eggs. I watched the mother return and sit on the eggs. For the past month or so I’ve been able to experience the full process of eggs to fledging. It wasn’t all easy though. Just a week prior to the first one fledging, the nest seemed to start to disintegrate. Then I found one of the chicks on the ground. I looked up on the internet the proper way to pick one up, which I’m glad I did. I carefully picked up the little guy and placed him back in the nest. Within an hour he was back on the ground. I’m sure the other one pushed him out. In the meantime, I watched the mother hummingbird find and feed the chick that was on the ground. I knew it wouldn’t be safe there so I made a nest with the bottom part of a Morton’s salt container, lined with cotton. I used string to attach it to a branch near the original nest. The mother hummingbird flew back for feeding time and found both the original nest and the one I made. A couple day’s later the original nest was a third of it’s original size and it’s occupant was clinging on for dear life. I don’t know why the nest was falling apart but I knew I had to make another nest like the first one I made. Both artificial nests were now hanging in the bush separated by a foot or so. The mother found both babies and continued to feed them. Then the first born started to stretch, preen it’s wings and soon was standing on the edge of the new nest. A day later it was gone. I looked all around on the ground to make sure that it hadn’t just fallen out. I then located the little hummer on another branch in the back of the same bush. Four days later the second little guy went through the process except this time I was standing next to the nest when he suddenly flew out and landed on another nearby branch. During the day I watched the mother hummingbird return and locate her babies and feed them. They have both been moving around to different branches in the same bush. I have watched them, on their own, snatch insects with their tongue. The mother bird is still returning to feed and check on them. I’m expecting that they will all be on their lives journey in a few more days. It’s been a fascinating process to witness and I feel lucky that I’ve had the chance!

            Reply
            1. That is a wonderful story, Mark! I’m so glad to hear of your attention to detail and ability to provide them with exactly what they needed. Your reward came when you witnessed the second one take to his/her wings for the first time. Perhaps another reader in your situation (knowledge of a crumbly nest that may have needed a bit more spider silk(?)) will learn from your experience. Thanks for sharing!

            2. Prior to finding the nest, I noticed a female Anna’s hummingbird perching on a branch on top of one of the Oleander bushes in the backyard. While l was observing this delicate bird I heard a high pitch chirp. It took me a few seconds before I realized what I had just heard. I knew, from watching a PBS documentary on hummingbirds, that the male Anna’s, as part of his courtship ritual, makes a high speed dive, flying just over the female Anna’s head. As he is pulling out of the dive, the air flow through his tail feathers makes the high pitch sound. I heard the sound again without seeing anything. Looking straight up, about sixty feet, I saw the male Anna’s pausing before making another dive. With my iPhone, I was able to capture on video the next dive producing chirp although the actual flight was so fast that it was just a blur. This went on for a couple days and using my Nikon with the 200-500mm lens, I was able to capture the male, with his wings backlit by the sun, just prior to another courting dive. It was a few days after that when I found the nest.

            3. Oh yes, their diving displays are something else. We see them do it quite a bit and the females must be enthralled (I guess it makes up for the lack of any paternal care!). Fascinating birds.

          2. Thanks for all your advocacy for natives and hummingbirds; also remind people when you advocate to NOT use ANY insecticides and pesticides in their gardens. The aisles of pesticides in every small and large box store break my heart.

            Folks may plant good plants but if they also treat the garden day for a “perfect” lawn, they may be be undermining their efforts.

            So a good activity for lazy gardeners or those of us terrible at planting, is to do nothing, as in not “treat” yards with herbicides and pesticides.

            Reply
  13. I have been fortunate enough to find five nests this year. Last year, I was lucky enough to follow one from hatching to fledgling. This year, was the first year that I saw both chicks die from one of the moms. One on day two and one on day 11. I didn’t even realize this happened, until reading your blog. That mom is currently sitting on a newness in a much more protected area. Yesterday, one of our Anna‘s hummingbird nests was empty – we had been watching mom for about seven days. When I went out to check on them in the morning, a part of the nest was missing, the eggs were gone, and mom was nowhere to be found. We looked on the ground to see if the eggs had fallen and broken, but they also were nowhere to be found. It has been two days and we have not seen mom in her territory. Any ideas? Only a small piece of the nest was missing the rest was perfectly intact – including the interior.

    Reply
    1. Janice, I’m so sorry to hear this. Birds have a tough life, especially at nesting time, when they are the most vulnerable. The eggs were likely taken by a predator, possibly a crow or jay or other corvid (a larger predator probably would have created more damage to the nest). Mom left because her eggs are gone. Take care.

      Reply
  14. We have a nest with two baby hummers in our yard, one of the hummers successfully flew out this morning. The smaller hummer tried to fly out a few minutes later but crash landed in the street. It refused to move, so I had to pick it up off the street and I placed it back in the nest. Now a couple of hours later the hummer is standing on the edge of the nest, constantly chirping. I’m not sure if the mother is still feeding the bird, or whether I need to intervene and provide it some food.

    Reply
    1. Oh no! I imagine mama will come back and feed that baby, just as she would if s/he had left the nest. Please keep me posted … I hope I’m right.

      Reply
  15. I have the joy of having a tiny hummingbird nest she built inside my patio light. Last spring she laid eggs, but they never hatched. This year, she built up the nest a little higher, laid her eggs, and they hatched! I’m heartbroken to say that unfortunately I don’t think they survived. I’ve been able to see them inside the nest – mom was coming back and feeding regularly, but over the past several days she hasn’t been around as much. Yesterday I got on a step stool to peek in and they were still and lifeless. This morning, I noticed mom was in the nest, moving the babies around, but they still aren’t moving. I’m not sure if I should take the dead babies out so mom can start again or just leave them for her to take care of. She must be heartbroken that her babies didn’t make it. Our weather has been all over the place – sunny and warm one week and cold and raining the next. Back and forth, this spring doesn’t know what it wants to do. I think during the last cold front / rain storm they succumb to the elements. Any suggestions on what I should do with the babies?

    Reply
    1. That’s so sad, Sue. If there is no way for her to get the babies out of the nest due to the nest location then I’d take them out and give them a proper burial. But if there is a way for her to push them out then I’d leave them, until you know she’s completely abandoned it. I do hope you’re not putting your patio light on … that could artificially increase their body temps. We’ve had hummingbirds in all sorts of nasty weather and while the cause could partly be the weather, chances are she hasn’t been able to find enough insects (protein), but of course it’s hard to say for sure. It will help to grow regional native plants that are best at producing the insects that birds need to raise their young.

      Reply
      1. I actually put tape over the switch so that no one turns the light on! I think because of the height of the nest she can’t push them out herself. That could be what she was attempting to do this morning when she was moving them around. I’ll keep an eye on it to see if she can get them out, and if not, I’ll give her a hand. I have a lot of native plants around but I’ll gladly take any suggestions for southern California / high desert region for plants to grow to help them out with the bug population. I was really looking forward to watching their first flight. Thanks for your quick reply.

        Reply
        1. Oh, wonderful (I just had to mention that just in case!). I’m sorry you won’t be able to see those babies grow and leave the nest, but hopefully there will be others, possibly even this year. I just saw a mama come to my ‘fur dispenser’ (clean cat fur in an old suet container) to add to her nest that’s someplace nearby.

          As far as plants, I’d suggest looking into books that focus on California natives by region, as well as the CA Native Plant Society (cnps.org) which has chapters around the state (it has a list of books that should help you). Take care.

          Reply
          1. So it’s been a little over a week since my original post. I have the babies a little more time and checked in on them again. They were still alive! Weak but holding on. One was definitely doing better than the other. I put some fruit in a dish outside to attract fruit flies so momma would have more protein for them. It seems that the stronger larger one has left the nest but has been saying hello to me at the window. The small one is still in the nest and I see momma feeding it everyday. I’m constantly watching because I think it’ll just be a few more days before this one heads out as well. I wouldn’t have known about the extra protein if I hadn’t happened upon your website. Thanks for being here!

            Reply
            1. That’s great news and so I’m glad you didn’t take things into your own hands (although the fruit fly idea is good!). Sometimes we just have to remember that Mom knows best 🙂

  16. We have a nest under our patio on a string of outdoor lights. My sons and I have really enjoyed watching the mom feed and care for her babies. However, tonight is the first time mom hasn’t returned to the nest. The babies are about 12 days old. I can see their little beaks poking up just above the rim of the nest. I’m worried about the mama and I’m not sure these little ones are old enough to be alone all night. Tonight it’s chilly and although they have some feathers they are don’t have the full fluffy feathers yet. I hope I see mama in the morning. It would be so upsetting to see these sweet babies suffering. Should I be worried?

    Reply
    1. Mama and babies are likely (and hopefully) fine. As I wrote, “about ten days after hatching and when the nestlings’ barbs began to look like feathers, Mom no longer stayed on the nest — during the day, anyway — most likely because her babies now had the ability to regulate their own body temperature.”

      Reply
      1. I’m happy to report that I spotted mom feeding her babies this morning and then off she went to find more food. I was worried because even though she has been spending less time on the nest during the day she has returned to the nest every night. Well, until last night!
        It’s such a treat that I have the opportunity to watch these babies grow. I hope I’m around to see them leave the nest.
        I can’t believe how invested I’ve become watching mom care for her young!

        Reply
        1. We had a little bird that we have been following in a tree in our backyard. I hadn’t seen the mother in two days, but had heard the little clicking sound they make. She would come and sit on the nest after feeding them, but now, without touching the branch the nest is in, was able to take a photo of the nest. The one little bird looks like it has died. There were two when she was still feeding them and returning to the nest. We saw two little beaks and the birds eyes were open. Could we have helped to feed them, maybe? If so, is there a protein mixture that would work? (Hoping we see another nest this year)

          Reply
          1. If the one baby hummingbird you saw in the photo is still alive, then it’s possible that mom is still feeding and you just don’t see her come and go. It is not advisable to try to feed babies … sometimes our actions, though well-meaning, can cause more harm. Wildlife rehabilitators don’t advise trying to help them: “It is best to let Mother Nature take her course. Many times by helping, we as humans can accidently hurt them. Hummingbird care and first aid is difficult at best and should be only done by a trained rehabilitator such as a wildlife expert or veterinarian trained in hummingbird care.” The best way to help future nesting birds (of all species) is to grow native plants that are local to your area, both for nectar and for insects.

            Reply
    1. Like most bird nests, it gradually falls apart (due to wind, rain, etc) and falls to the ground where it eventually becomes soil. Only in very sheltered locations will a hummingbird nest stay intact for more than a few months. In such cases it may be reused, with a female reusing or building another nest on top of the old one, but that’s fairly unusual.

      Reply
      1. Hi Eileen – we didn’t have the heart to destroy the hummingbird nest that had been used two years in a row. We were getting ready to cleanup our patio after all the winter junk and realized we had another mama bird mending the nest. This is the third year! She’s seems to be doing fine on it, and I think the eggs should (hopefully) hatch next week. Do you think we should destroy the nest after they leave this time? The nest is on a wind chime relatively save from wind/rain, but we’ll be moving and would be saddened to know that by leaving it, harm would come to another set of birds next year.

        Reply
        1. Wow, I love how they can reuse/recycle those sheltered nests! It’s probably not highly likely that it will be used again, but I’m not sure why you think harm would come to the next mother and babies. I imagine that the new owners of your house could take the chime down or move it, but that is beyond your control. If you destroy the nest and the chime is left in place, another bird (or the same bird) could rebuild one there.

          Reply
          1. Just wasn’t sure how stable a nest would be for a 4th year. You’re right. I won’t be here, so it doesn’t matter what the new owners do. We’ll be leaving it. It has brought us more joy this year than ever. With the shelter in place order, I’m working from home so have seen them grow from a small fluff of feathers to beautiful birds that learned to fly and leave the nest yesterday. They hung around all morning and finally left the yard around noon. It was amazing watching them and mom continuing to feed them as they flew from spot to spot. I’ll have more room in Texas so plan on having multiple feeders around the yard along with the appropriate plants for them to eat from.

            Reply
            1. Working from home definitely has its advantages! You might see Mom feeding the babies for the next week–listen for their little peeps in the trees or shrubs. I hope you’ll grow native plants at your new home. Take care.

  17. We have a nest on our windchime, two eggs hatched everything seemed fine until this afternoon one baby fell out and is stiff the other has been chirping all day, finally we gently gave the baby left some sugar water it seems OK but mom is no where in sight, unlike before she was constantly around. Bird hospital doesn’t open until tomorrow morning 10:00 am. So my son and husband are set on feeding it through the night and orayvthe hospital can help. How do we try to find the mom? Our whole house is heartbroken. Now we just ear the lone baby in the nest chirping.its painful to hear.

    Reply
    1. Oh no, something must have happened to the mom. Spoiled sugar water in feeders can make them sick, so perhaps a neighbor who doesn’t change the solution as often as it should be in warm weather? Of course it could have been a predator or something else. I hope you can get the surviving nestling to a rehabber … babies need insect protein as much as nectar … they will die without it.

      Reply
  18. Can a young humminbird about 18/19 days survive on their own? He was spooked and flew out of the nest and has clumsily flown to our neighbors’ backyard. I have seen the mother bird go there but can’t tell if she is feeding him or not. The other sibling is still in the nest by herself and hasn’t attempted to fly apart from flapping her wings once a while. I do want to point out that the one that flew out is slightly older – was the first to be laid, hatched about 4 or 5 hours earlier and appeared to be slightly stronger and bigger. I am so worried that the poor baby wont make it if he is not brought back to the nest.

    Reply
    1. Yes, as I wrote, Anna’s fledge at 18-28 days. If the Mom is around, she is feeding him and Baby will probably be fine. You may be able to hear tiny little peeps from the baby, which means a request for food. The other should leave very soon if s/he’s flapping wings.

      Reply
  19. I have enjoyed watching hummingbirds nest right outside our window a couple of years now successfully. It is quite the thing to see, makes us realize we are all fragile and need care. This year, I am sure one of the birds did not make it, the other egg does not look good. How long will a mama sit on a nest that won’t hatch?

    I have enjoyed reading your blog.

    Reply
    1. Hi Lori, I’m not certain how long she will attempt to incubate; probably no longer than the normal incubation period. If one of the young died then the other baby in the egg is dead (since they hatch roughly at the same time). I’m so sorry to hear about this, but she will likely attempt another nest soon.

      Reply
  20. Hello Eileen. Great site and photos of the most fascinating bird on the planet! I am surprised no one has written about hummers missing legs. I live near Seattle and for the past two winters, I have had first a hummer with no legs, then this year one with only one leg. The birds, both remain Anna’s, hover to use my feeder and last year, the legless one would just hover into nearby bushes after feeding. This years female had one leg and could land on an “uphill” branch by balancing.

    Both females only remained for a few weeks, strangely enough in the absence of a dominating male. The male would leave for a few weeks and the handicap would show up. I was honored to help both females as well as all who come.

    Thanks again for your site and I’ll be monitoring for more!

    Reply
    1. Hi Joe, thanks for your comment. It does sound odd that you would have seen two without leg(s). I would recommend reporting this to your local Audubon chapter. I found the following article online, as well as a paper about a large number of leg injuries to Anna’s as a result of incompetent banding (ugh) in central California. https://www.thespruce.com/one-legged-birds-386471. Females staying in the same area for a long time without a male is common. I imagine the disabled ones died since you stopped seeing them.

      Reply
  21. I hope so, too! Yes, it’s early nesting stage, eggs laid just this past week. Oh how I wish she would have waited just a little while. Stay safe and warm. I love your blog, glad it found!

    Reply
  22. Just came across your wonderful post. We have a hummer nesting during a severe Seattle snow storm. Fingers crossed for our feathered babies!

    Reply
    1. Connie, I hope it’s still the egg or early nestling stage since that may make it easier for Mom to keep them warm, but with the upcoming weather (Seattle’s supposed to dip down to 18ºF this weekend!), it will be hard for her to find protein to feed them. Mom should be OK since she can lower her body temp in cold weather. I actually saw a recent fledgling a week ago in our yard–she must have started her family in Dec when it was milder. I hope everything turns out OK!

      Reply
      1. Update: the weather in Seattle has warmed and the eggs hatched. So wonderful. Thank you for all of your information and spectacular pics.

        Reply
  23. So glad I stumbled upon your post. I’ve been watching a sweet hummingbird too here in San Diego. One baby died. But baby #2 seems to be surviving. I found him fallen from the nest and gentle picked him up with a tissue and placed it back in the nest, twisted a branch of the Crepe Myrtle to shore up weak side of nest. Mama seems none the wiser and is caring for it well.

    Reply
    1. Oh my goodness, I’m glad you found the baby on the ground! I’m surprised she hasn’t fixed the nest. And I wonder what the sibling died of. Well, hopefully this baby will thrive! Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  24. I just discovered an active nest at my home in Sherman Oaks. It’s in a creeping fig vine just a few feet from our patio door. There are two brown babies with orange beaks, and Mrs. H. is busy feeding them. It is amazing to see, just outside my living room!

    Reply
  25. Quick update – mom came back to the nest last night and was there this morning. My husband took a short video, and the babies are pretty active, so I think she just left them for a bit due to the heat. I’m sure she knows what she’s doing! The weather will be cooler for the next few days and then hot again, so we’ll see how it goes.

    Reply
  26. We are all so blessed to be touched by witnessing baby hummers . I have had 5 mommies have babies in the last 2 years on my balcony using the same nest . I found a NEW NEST yesterday on Memorial Day and inside was 4 Eggs . I am very Concerned that two or all will die as I have read that the mom cannot feed them all so they all die . Has anyone experienced this before ? I really do get vested and will cry if I watch them hatch and struggle and cry to only starve . Please help .

    Reply
    1. Wow — four eggs is very unusual. Yes, I imagine not all of them will make it, sadly. It’s very hard to watch, but we have to let nature take its course, however unnatural the surroundings and however helpless it makes us feel. I’d suggest having adequate nectar available (fresh, if you use feeders), and hopefully there are a lot of tiny insects/spiders available too. If only Dad would help!

      Reply
  27. I’m so glad I found this site. I need some advice please.
    And Kanta, I’m in Encinitas and recognize you as Dennis wife.
    We have a nest perched on a small stained glass ornament outside our bedroom slider.
    It was thrilling to discover it and the Mama sitting in the nest. It’s been about 2 weeks since we first found it, and have been very quiet and respectful, although if I open the curtain or make a sudden move she flies away, but does return. We’ve seen no evidence of babies.
    So, today my curiosity got me, and while she was away. I climbed a little ladder to peak in the nest, and it was empty! But later she returned and sat again.
    Is it possible she’s waiting to lay or what else could be the reason she is sitting on an empty nest? If her eggs were stolen, would she continue to return?
    Any info would be appreciated.

    Reply
    1. It could be that she is going to lay eggs, but 2 weeks is a long time, unless something happened to the male in the territory. Keep your eyes open for a male. If the eggs had been taken I don’t think she would be sitting so long; usually they abandon the nest when that happens, but of course there’s no way to know for sure. I’d suggest also contacting your local Audubon chapter for their opinion. I hope all goes well with Mama.

      Reply
      1. Eileen, all these posts are so informative, and I have really enjoyed reading them. For the first time in 13 years at this home, we have a nest with two brand new babies on a wind chime on our back patio. We believe they hatched on Sunday. Mom was around constantly until today. It was about 103° today, so we’re not sure if that’s why she’s not been around this evening. We were able to take a quick video, and they both seem ok. We’re just not sure how long to wait to try to remove the nest and take them to a local bird rescue.

        Reply
        1. With such hot weather Mom won’t stay on the nest much and you must watch the nest constantly because she can come and go in literally an instant. If you are then positive that she’s not returned, call the bird rescue and ask them how to proceed. They will not fare well without a mom to teach them later on how to find food, etc., so removing the nest/babies should be the very last resort. Please let me know how it goes.

          Reply
    2. How cool that a neighbor and longtime acquaintance recognized my comment here. We are all quite a ‘family’ of hummer-lovers, aren’t we? We are so blessed to have these little guys/gals in our lives! I have been concerned as on our “Next Door” thread some appear to be putting twice as much sugar in the nectar-making than appropriate. I have always heard it is supposed to be 1 cup sugar to a cup of water unless it is very cold and so may require something stronger. What are your thoughts on this? Also, we get a natural sugar from Hummingbird Market made up from flowers, etc. We have thought this to be preferable to just plain sugar. I would appreciate your take on this as well. Thanks!

      Reply
      1. Yes, too strong a sugar solution may cause dehydration, especially in hot weather. It’s safest to not use feeders at all but instead to use natural nectar from flowers, particularly native species. Please see this post for more info. http://realgardensgrownatives.com/?p=3011 Thanks for your concern!

        Reply
  28. Thank you for sharing this! I love all your amazingly crisp photos. We had a hummingbird nest just outside our front door with two babies that flew away today after about 3 weeks from hatching. They were actually scared off their nest when an unknowing maintenance worker bumped a branch. The mama bird has been looking for them all morning 🙁 She was so protective throughout the whole process. I saw the two little ones in a tree nearby so hopefully she’ll find them. Or maybe they’ll make it on their own we can hope! Anyway, it was a treat to read of your experience as it reminded me very much of ours. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Oh, that’s a shame. It think 21 days is too early for them to fledge, but I’m quite sure Mom will find them. A couple of weeks ago I heard a tiny peeping sound and didn’t see a baby hummer (who acted like he had left the nest that day) until Mom came to feed him. Then he would sit for 20 minutes or so in the same spot and start peeping again. I had never seen a baby who had just left the nest, but now I know that is what they do. I heard his peeping for at least several days after he gathered the courage to fly around to other branches … so Mom should certainly be able to hear them. Let me know how it turns out! In the future, if you have a nest again, consider putting up a little “birds nesting” sign or something to warn passersby. I’ll send you a photo of the baby being fed by Mom.

      Reply
      1. Thanks so much for your reply. Good idea on the sign. Crisis averted at least. The little birds are back with mom now in the same tree with the nest, although not in the nest. She was so frantically looking for them so I’m glad they’ve reunited. I’ll look for your pic! 🙂

        Reply
  29. We are are in coastal N. San Diego County have a hummingbird that definitely reused a nest that has been sitting on our windchimes in the patio for about 3 years. Also, I have read other accounts where hummers have reused nests. In fact, one outfit actually builds nests and offer videos of one of them being reused. Our two little guys are getting ready to fledge. I found your site by searching for info on what frantic preening by the babies might mean. From your experience our babies probably will leave soon. I missed the flights of the prior babies…sure would be fun to spot these new babies leaving. My husband took several photos and they are absolutely unfazed. Their whole focus is on food and mom, haha.

    Reply
    1. Yes, I’m learning that in warm climates or sheltered places they may reuse nests. Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
    2. In a stunning act of good fortune I just happened to be looking as one baby took it’s first flight. The other immediately did the same in a different direction. The 2nd to fly was actually bolder as he left the patio area fairly quickly. The first fella hung around on our patio light and other elevated structures (surfboards and such) for at least 2 or 3 more hours. The mom would come back to the nest and poke at it as if she was feeding someone…must have been a mightily ingrained habit. She then would fly down toward the ground as if making sure no one had fallen out. She did this routine several times. She did see her baby that hung around and attempted to feed it a few times. Was unsure if the baby actually was accepting more feeding after leaving the nest, though.
      Today we saw a baby sitting outside our home office window. Finally it flew away, a lot more strongly than I would have thought, off to the backyard and patio environs. It seems like it might be quite challenging for these little ones to locate adequate food. I guess I am still “worrying” they will be O.K., lol.

      Reply
      1. That’s great you were able to witness their fledging! The babies will be fed by Mom for about a week as they learn how to find food themselves. I recently saw a baby who appeared to have left the nest that day and Mom would come every 20 minutes or so when she heard his peeps. It helps if you grow native plants that will provide both the nectar and insects they need. Thanks for your comment.

        Reply
        1. We get two nests a season for the last four years. Took me awhile to find them but now I know what to look for. The hummingbirds really like our yard. We have many fruit trees. They nest in the grapefruit or orange trees. We have a compost bin that has many gnats and I think they they like all the bugs. I watched the first clutch fledge in March. It took over an hour for both babies to get out of the nest. It was a sight to see. I felt very lucky to have witnessed it. I took pictures , but they are not nearly as good as the ones you’ve posted on your blog above. Thank you for posting them, they are beautiful.

          Reply
    3. Hi Kanta 😀 I am in Rancho Bernardo and would love to reach out to you. Are you still in Encinitas? This is for you and Eileen as well… I have a nest with two eggs. One hatched and the other didn’t. Yesterday had lots of rain and wind and I took a picture today and it looks like the baby hasn’t moved and the egg hasn’t hatched. Mama is still sitting on the nest. At this point wondering if baby Basil Is still alive… by the way Eileen, I love this site and thank you for providing it for us ❤️

      Reply
  30. Very interesting! Sounds similar to our situation — it seemed like she was a different Anna’s than last year (looked darker), but because the nest was in our covered patio it was in pretty good shape and she reused it. I do hope another one at least decides to use it this year (and that no more attacks happen!). Thanks again.

    Reply
  31. Thanks for journaling your experiences! As of about 10 days ago we had an Anna’s hummingbird reusing an old nest that was on a light string on our patio from a different Anna’s last year (the hummer this year looked a bit darker; could it have been one of the babies from last year?). Last year we got to see two babies hatch and apparently fledge over a couple days, both times when we weren’t home. It was so amazing. Anyway, I was delighted to see two eggs in the nest this past Monday (four days ago) and she seemed to be sitting on it a lot more, incubating them. I was all ready to see babies by the end of the month but tragedy has struck. Yesterday evening after we’d been gone for a while I noticed the side of the nest looked a little damaged and this morning I realized one of the eggs was on our patio, in pieces with some “yolk” on the ground. I checked the nest with my phone camera and it is empty. 🙁 I have no idea where the other egg went. We can’t figure out quite what happened but I’m wondering if another bird attacked the nest? Its location on the light string is covered and precarious for anything larger than a small bird to sit on, and it seems basically impossible for a large predator to see and access since it’s well under the patio right in front of our back door. So I was wondering if it was one of the other yard birds attracted by a nearby seed feeder (which we had put up a week or two before the hummingbird showed up to nest). I actually stopped filling the feeder last weekend because I thought the sparrows and finches were being a little territorial with the Anna’s, and I planned to phase it out for a while but hadn’t done that yet, so I’m wondering if that had something to do with the apparent attack? I’ve heard house finches eat weed seeds, and the nest had plenty of fluffy dandelion seeds on it. So now I’m feeling guilty that maybe the empty feeder made one of them go after the nest! (My son thought he saw a house finch near the nest yesterday.) Sorry for the long comment, and I appreciate any insights you may have!

    Reply
    1. So sorry to hear of this! I have doubts that a little finch could damage a nest and remove an egg and cause the other to fall. Little hummingbird nests are put together pretty well and I don’t think that picking off a few seeds would cause it to fall apart, but of course I don’t know for sure. A larger bird, such as a jay (which are sometimes attracted to seeds at feeders) or crow would have trouble accessing the nest, but certainly could have seen Mama coming and going and then possibly gotten to the eggs clumsily, on the wing (that would explain the damaged nest). Other birds that reportedly may eat hummer eggs include orioles, tanagers & large flycatchers–not sure if they are in your area. In general, it’s a good idea to keep feeders away from nests and to not hang feeders too close together, which causes birds to unnaturally congregate together. I hope that helps. Don’t feel bad–it might not have been the feeder at all. Take care.

      Reply
      1. Thank you so much for the swift reply! This is very helpful. I’m in Southern California and we do have scrub jays here (and mockingbirds and mourning doves, not sure if that’s relevant), and coincidentally I saw a large oriole in the area a few days ago — I think it was a Bullock’s Oriole, which I had never seen before in person. I took the seed feeder down in case any hummingbirds come back. I saw that you (I think) noted that Anna’s don’t reuse their own nests. I’m hoping there’s a chance another hummingbird will use the nest again this year, since it wasn’t occupied for very long this time, although I have no idea if that’s realistic. I was sad to think we’ll have to wait another year (or longer?) to have an active nest right outside our sliding door again …

        Reply
        1. A neighbor of mine actually had an Anna’s hummingbird build a nest on top of a previous year’s nest that was in a sheltered area and hadn’t fully fallen apart. Anna’s typically have 2 broods per year so you may not have to wait that long, but since the nest was preyed upon I imagine she likely won’t come back to that exact spot.

          Reply
  32. I thought I would get my porch back and my picnic table for the spring BBQ, but I need to wait a little while longer. As the new babies continue to feed in the yard, I decided to remove the old nest and tarp under it after two weeks. One week later, a new mother (maybe a baby from last year) built a new nest on the very same light on the very same string. Two more eggs that should be hatching any day now. My 5-6 little ones in two years! Pretty neat as I walk around the nest and the feeders, the other little ones don’t mind me and take their drinks. Mom doesn’t mind me either as I get a couple of inches from her on the nest and take pics and video. Very enjoyable.

    Reply
    1. Either your porch is a hummingbird magnet or there are no other suitable nest sites in your vicinity. Hopefully the former. Congrats!

      Reply
  33. we have 2 hummingbirds that feed regularly in our yard. We have 2 feeders for them. just recently we have not seen them as much or not at all. Do you know the reason for this? Could they be tending to their young?

    Reply
  34. Hi. We really enjoyed reading this. We have an Anna’s nesting right now in our citrus tree in SoCal, so it was great to read of your experience. Nest building is complete, eggs there for 3 days.

    Reply
  35. You have no idea how much I appreciate this story . I get very attached to my Hummers . This is the first day I have not seen them . And all the ants are coming in my house and I was trying to find a way to give them . I assumed that my homers died because it was so cold last night in the 20s . After reading your article they might be nesting . And if so they may be looking for protein instead of sugar water . Please keep me updated . Thank you so much.

    Reply
    1. They need both nectar (or sugar water) and insect protein. Hopefully they are OK! Please be sure to change your sugar water frequently (at least every 5 days or so when it’s cold, much more frequently when it’s warm) and clean the feeders with hot soapy water each time. If you live in the PNW, a great shrub from providing natural nectar is red-flowering currant. Again, I hope everything’s OK!

      Reply
  36. Hello

    I just moved into a new condo and I see hummingbirds on the feeder I set up patio. There is a large rhodie next to it that they keep swooping into. Is there a next in there? I also see the female perching on a branch on top of the rhodie that’s sticking out. I don’t want to disturb the nest until the little ones have flown. When do you think that will be? This weekend, I also saw the male, red throat. Does that mean they are still building the nest? I am planning a big landscape job, and the rhodie will almost disappear. Seriously trimmed, but will have a “lattice like effect” that will have other climbing vines on it in the future. I want to make sure they are gone before this project begins. Thanks for advice/counsel.

    Reply
    1. Hi Chris, if there’s more than one hummingbird flying into the shrub, they are likely using it for shelter. If you’re mainly just noticing one, then it’s certainly possible that there could be a nest in it. One way to tell is if she’s coming and going every half hour or so——that would mean she’s feeding babies, who need to be fed frequently. Either way, I recommend waiting to do any pruning until the weather is warmer and drier. Keeping an eye on the nest should tell you when they are no longer using it. Total time for nest building, incubation of eggs, and time in nest until fledging is about 6 weeks. Females (which have a small bit of reddish spotting on their throat that isn’t usually very obvious) build the nest alone and raise the young alone. Males have a red throat but also a red “hood”–search photos online to help you ID. Hope that helps and thanks for being extra careful with any pruning!

      Reply
  37. Thank you for your great doc. We had an Anna build her nest on our christmas light string on our back porch last year (2017 Feb). I immediately put a 24 hr camera above her nest and recorded her laying her eggs, hatching, feeding, and fledging the nest. I spoiled mom as I had covered the section of porch with an umbrella and when the babies were getting too big the nest was falling over. I intervened in the early hours and put a perpendicular string under the nest to support it. Mom was pleased and I was present and got lots of pictures and video of the day they flew away. Since it was in the middle of my back porch, i removed the nest. I know Mom has been around all year as I talk to her every day after work and fill the feeders every week. This Feb (2018), i came out to the back porch only to find mom building a new nest on the very same light bulb on the string of lights. This time i didn’t wait and spoiled her right away. I setup the camera 24/7 recording and covered the section of my porch. She couldn’t be happier. As I write this she has been feeding the new little ones after 9 days and doesn’t mind me working in the backyard around her. She will feed on the feeders as I am standing right next to it. These two years of mom and the babies around have brought a great deal of love in our household. You can watch the 2018 feed here: https://video.nest.com/live/8D6gPpqcGS thank you agin for your post!

    Reply
    1. Wonderful! I watched your cam for about 15 min and saw Mom come twice to feed them. That nest does look like it would be unstable without your help. There is a new nest here that is unfortunately unsheltered and it’s supposed to get down into the 20s this week (she built it when it was very mild). We’ll have to let nature take it’s course as there’s no way to add shelter; hopefully the babies won’t hatch until after the cold period. Thanks for sharing your story and the cam!

      Reply
      1. These little ones are ready to go. Mom was teaching them to fly all day. Bouncing on their backs and all around them as she fed them. They did their hovering and hanging off the sides of the nest. It was fun for all at work who had it streaming in their corner of their monitors. March 6 could be the day!

        Reply
  38. I’ve read everything! You are an expert! We are pruning a 15’ thuja hedge. I heard a yummy… then ,as expected, the little beauty with pink throat , buzzed around us, hovering and making obvious eye-contact with us. How can I find the nest( so NOT to disturb it) and how will this impact this beautiful dear bird who would like to stay here over winter?

    Reply
    1. Betsy, thank you for your concern! If the throat on the hummingbird was an obvious pink then he was a male and they don’t nest (the females do all the nest building and care of young). Plus, it’s too early for nesting season (could start in Dec or Jan). But certainly he uses the hedge for thermal cover in the winter, so please prune it as little as possible (leave enough foliage so that it will provide a wind break) and he will likely be fine.

      Reply
  39. Hi
    I have a hummingbird nest that has a dead baby in it. Can i take it down and bury it? There are flies around the nest and dead baby. 😢

    Reply
    1. Oh, that’s too bad. Is there another baby still in the nest? If so, I don’t see why you couldn’t take out the dead one, as long as Mom is away (to prevent stress to her).

      Reply
  40. Once everyone is out of the nest is it OK to trim and prune the plant that the nest was in? It is really dirty looking on the fern branches. Like sprays of black sticky stuff.

    Reply
    1. That’s shouldn’t be a problem … the nest typically isn’t reused (altho I’ve read that the nest material is sometimes “recycled” to build a new nest); it will probably fall apart fairly soon.

      Reply
  41. I’m really sad right now. This morning both babies were in the nest that was made on a wind chime outside my bedroom slider. I can lay on my bed and watch mom come and go. However, this afternoon I was in the backyard and noticed there is only one bird in the nest. They both looked healthy this morning. I can’t say for sure when they hatched because I didn’t see the nest for the longest time as I was looking for it on the patio cover. I just hope it’s okay. Mom came back and in my mind she seemed concerned.

    Reply
    1. Did you look for the baby below the nest (in case it fell)? Or was it old enough to fledge? Sometimes one will leave the nest ahead of the other.

      Reply
      1. I’m beginning to think it took off on its own. The other baby left two days ago. Now I really am feeling the empty nest syndrome.

        Reply
  42. I just bought some fucshia starters and hope they will bloom soon to see the hummingbirds
    return. Thanks for the information I will keep you posted.
    Amy

    Reply
  43. I have had Anne’s hummingbird in my yard now for a couple of months building a nest and swooping around but now I have noticed they are not in the nest or anywhere flying in the
    yard. Will they come back this summer or are they done with my yard and I will see them
    next year. I have read they don’t reuse their nest. I’m new to hummingbirds and I love the colors
    in the Anne’s Hummingbird.
    Great pictures.
    Thanks for sharing

    Reply
    1. Thanks for your comment. In warm climates (such as Southern CA) they may reuse their nests or reuse nest materials, but in the PNW their nests usually fall apart fairly quickly (unless the nest is in a very sheltered location). You should see them again this year, especially if you have tubular flowers (natives are especially good), but it’s not unusual for them to disperse and check out other areas for food. Even though my red-flowering currant flowers are just now winding down and the Oregon grape is beginning to bloom, I’m only seeing one or two, so they must be elsewhere. If you use feeders, be sure to clean them and change the sugar water every few days, especially as temperatures rise–sugar water can go bad very quickly.

      Reply
      1. Your photos are wonderful!!

        I had an Anna’s build a nest on a windchime outside our kitchen window this winter in S. California. We had a lot of wind and rain during that time, and eventually the nest was abandoned before any eggs were layed. The nest became very broken down by more bad weather spinning the windchime in circles. This week, many weeks since the first nest was built, I came home to find the same nest being quickly remodeled and looking neat amd pretty. I couldn’t believe it! I don’t know if it’s the same Anna’s, but this one has spent the majority of today sitting in the nest. I don’t know if there is an egg or two in there. And since I spend a lot of time near that window overlooking the nest (outside the kitchen sink), I may end up frightening her away. I hope not. It’s such a joy to see!

        Reply
        1. That’s great! This shows how resilient these birds are. I would guess that it’s the same mama since they’re quite territorial. And I read recently that it’s not uncommon for her (or her offspring) to build a nest nearby or even on top of the remains of the previous nest, using recycled nesting materials from the old nest. She’ll incubate her eggs for about 16 days, so hopefully she’ll get used to your gaze by the time they hatch. Enjoy!

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  44. Thanks so much for your reply, Eileen. I would so love to think they have already fledged, but judging from your photos they would have be quite large and we never saw anything like that in our nest. I never actually saw a baby at all – just the mother sitting on the edge regurgitating food into the nest so I assume there was at least one baby in there she was feeding, which makes me think it was still very tiny. And as of this past weekend the mother was still sitting on the nest a lot and if they were large enough to fledge, she probably wouldn’t fit on the nest still, would she? I am afraid something bad happened – I will be brave and check the nest. Yes, I do change the food in my feeders every weekend – I make my own sugar water as I don’t like that red coloring they use in the store bought food. They always seem to really love it. It hasn’t been hot here the past several weeks, so I sure hope it didn’t go bad. 🙁 I’d be devastated to think I had hurt them in some way with the food. 🙁 They do seem to eat the plants mostly but some of them, especially my Rufus like to just sit on the feeder, being “in charge.” 🙂 He’s quite the character! I’m not sure if the mother hummingbird was a Rufus or an Anna? She was just gray in color. There was a pesky crow hanging around the other side of my yard where 2 morning doves are nesting, I chased that crow away and the doves did return to their nest that morning – I sure hope the crow didn’t go to the patio later in the day and bother the hummingbird instead. 🙁

    Reply
  45. Hi, love your story and pictures. We have a nest on our patio and have been watching her for weeks now. She appeared to be feeding babies for the past week. But when I came home last night, she was not on the nest, didn’t see her return at all and this morning she was still not there. Are the babies dead? 🙁 Will she come back you think? I’m so worried and so sad.

    Reply
    1. Amelia, I hope everything is OK. If she’s not coming back I’d definitely look into the nest … if the babies are there and you’re positive the mom isn’t around, then take them to the nearest wildlife rehabber immediately–they can’t go long w/o food. If there’s no one in the nest then a predator probably got them. Please let me know how things work out.

      Reply
      1. Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately she is still not back – it has now been since Monday morning. I watched for over 1/2 hour yesterday evening but she never came to the nest. I also listened for any chirping from the nest as I read that means they are starving, but all is totally silent. I didn’t dare look into it – partly because I was afraid to make things worse by upsetting her if she is around and also partly because I’m afraid of what I’ll find. 🙁 But I will try and look in there – it’s quite high but with a ladder I think I can manage it. What is extra peculiar is that we always have tons of hummingbirds in our yard – I have two feeders and lots of plants they love and they are constantly buzzing around. Since whatever happened on Monday – I have not seen a single bird! Isn’t that odd?? Like something scared them all away??

        Reply
        1. The young need to be fed very frequently, so they are dead if she hasn’t been around since Monday! But perhaps you are wrong about their ages and they’ve fledged already? If the nest is very high then you may not have noticed the feeding during the first week or so. Checking the nest will put your mind at rest. It’s possible that a predator came around and scared them all off, but I have been seeing very few in my yard lately, so it may be natural for them to disperse this time of year. Also, if you keep up feeders, be absolutely certain that they are changed and cleaned every few days–in warmer weather the sugar water can go bad very quickly and kill hummers. It’s always best to feed them with native plants that can’t possibly go bad 🙂

          Reply
  46. I have a female hummingbird, most likely an Anna that is putting the finishing fluff inside her nest soon to lay her eggs! She’s right outside our sliding glass door so the view is amazing.

    Reply
    1. Fantastic! If there are no rust colored feathers on her sides then she’s an Anna’s. My best to the mom!

      Reply
  47. Hi, I have nest right now (3-24-17) NW Seattle on wires under house eves. This is the 3rd year a hummer has built nest there. I believe she started to build about 3-16-17. Every so often, she turns around, seems to straighten nest, pokes at it, maybe moves eggs around too. I’ll know they’ve hatched when she leaves nest frequently, returns. Last year I watched fledging of 1st sibling. Does take a long time for them as they seem to get up courage. That fledgling then returned to nest area & seemed to be urging the other to try it out. I notice that before they take the plunge, they definitely react with interest to all the “food” flying by. (tiny insects) I missed fledging of 2nd. Hummers buzz around my yard like bugs; whizz right bt my face sometimes. I seem to have more of them than any other bird species. Love your photos; my camera not good enough. Wish I had a good video camera! Also, every time I go in and out, I look up at mamma, sitting there. I say something encouraging! She knows I’m there, will come to feed very close to my hand. She’s of course extremely territorial with other hummers who try to come to feeder. I believe she even chases other birds that come too near. I’d never even seen a hummer nest in nature before this. I do have 2 other feeders in yard. Wonder if your hummers ever returned to same spot? Thanks again for posting!!

    Reply
    1. Carol, thanks so much for your report! The nest in my post was in 2015 and the next year there was nothing there. But now, 2 years later, there is another nest in the same shrub and almost the same spot (but not as easy to see), so I suppose it could be the same female, but who knows. I wonder if it could be the same mama at your site each year, although I would think they would vary the location to prevent possible predation. I recently posted an article on my FB page about egg turning: most birds are thought to turn their eggs (with their feet) by shuffling them around the nest, and they do it quite frequently, the median is twice an hour (and through the night!). There was a very handsome but bossy Rufous hummingbird who was hanging out in our backyard for just 4 days last week; apparently he stopped at our yard for a rest from his long migration but had further to go. While he was here he kept Anna away from the feeder in the back, but luckily there was one in the front, so she used that. Now that the red-flowering currant shrubs are in bloom I’ll take the feeders in so she and her babies can get better nutrition from real nectar (altho they do eat a lot of insects/spiders). My best to the little wonders in your yard!

      Reply
  48. I have Anna’s hummingbirds around my yard. It is not common that I see more than one on a feeder at the same time, but maybe once every couple weeks on average, and generally at dusk. In fall of 2015 I had a feeder that got very heavily used and I saw multiple Anna’s feeding on it frequently, and once saw FOUR feeding on it at the same time (using all of the four holes in the feeder). I never have seen a nest, though. I think they are trying to make sure they are far enough away from where the human comes around.

    Reply
    1. Wow … 4 at a feeder at once! The most I’ve seen is two, and both were females. The males are very territorial and will often guard “their” feeder fiercely. I have two feeders right now because of it, but as soon as the red-flowering currants start blooming I’ll take them away and let nature take over. I hope you see a nest one day, but they are very hard to spot since they’re so tiny and camouflaged, just the way they want it. Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
  49. Thanks for posting these amazing shots! We were fortunate to experience some of own babies this winter. Babies hatched on 12th and 13th of Jan. and just flew away today (Feb. 6 2017).
    It was a beautiful experience!!! We sure are going to miss them :/

    Reply
    1. Wow, that’s early (although I’ve read that they can start nesting as early as December). Congratulations! Did you see them actually leave the nest? Thanks for your note.

      Reply
  50. That was lovely. I enjoyed it very much! I am wondering where you have heard that Anna’s hummingbird siblings stay together until the fall. That is what I was wondering about when I did the search that brought me to your posting. I am pretty sure that I have been observing a pair of young birds hanging out together in my yard. Sometimes they chase each other, sometimes they perch near each other, and they are the only 2 hummers that I’ve seen use my feeder at the same time. Can you give me a reference or citation on this topic? Thanks for sharing your lovely photos & story.

    Reply
    1. You are welcome! I found that info at http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Calypte_anna/
      and they site two sources. After “ours” fledged there was a lot of chasing going on, which I attributed to playfulness, although in late spring a rufus hummingbird added to the rivalry (they have it very tough since the Anna’s are already established when they return from an arduous migration). The two you’re seeing could very well be siblings—do you know their genders? Occasionally I’ve seen two female Anna’s feeding simultaneously at my feeder during the winter, but they are likely not related since siblings would have split up by then. The males aggressively keep the females from the feeder while they’re there—so territorial! Thanks for visiting, Lisa.

      Reply
  51. Eileen
    Thanks for this post. We have a nest under the eave of our porch. Chicks hatched May 6 & 7 respectively. Mom has been attentive. Have taken 3 photos. Hope to get more. Have to use remote trigger as mom is very wary. Looking forward to watching them grow to fledglings. K

    Reply
    1. And then you’ll get to watch them zoom around your yard together! Thanks for your note. -Eileen

      Reply
      1. Hi
        Had my first nest this year. She set it up right near slider under patio cover on Hanging spiral crystal ornament. I have 2 babies on the verge of fledging. Anytime now. Loved having them here.
        This morning I noticed a young male approach the nest with lots of interest in babies. In fact poked one of them. Mom immediately chased him away. He had been here all morning. Mom has been a real protector. Hummingbird wars. Afraid to leave patio. Movement keeps him away. Would he kill the babies?

        Reply
        1. Hi Sherry,
          I doubt he would kill the babies, especially since they ready to fledge and with Mom around. He’s probably just very curious and Mom can likely handle it herself. I wonder how you know it is a young male who is so interested … juvenile males resemble females until their first winter. -Eileen

          Reply

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