It's hummingbird nesting time

  • Article by: JIM GILBERT
  • Updated: June 24, 2010 - 7:48 PM

Many people enjoy watching ruby-throated hummingbirds feeding from nectar-producing garden plants and backyard feeders containing sweetened water, but few have seen a hummingbird's nest.

During courtship, the female ruby-throat sits quietly on a perch while the male displays in a pendulum dance. He flies in a wide arc and buzzes loudly with each dip, but the female shows no preference for a particular male until just prior to egg laying. Observers agree that the male takes no part in nesting activities and even is suspected of polygamy. Occasionally a male might be seen near the nest, but, after mating, he apparently becomes a free wanderer. When she is building a nest, she chooses a limb or twig, often sheltered by overshadowing leaves, and collects silky or downy fibers that are then held together with spider silk. The nest, 2 inches or less in diameter, is covered with bits of lichens. Nest building takes about a week, and when finished it looks like a small knot covered with tree lichens. The two white eggs, laid one day apart, are about the size of large peas. The female incubates the eggs, which hatch in 14 days.

JIM GILBERT

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