Monday, March 12, 2007

Two Hummingbird Nestlings !

Yes, there are TWO!

Here you can see there are two nestlings and they nearly fill the nest. Their heads are toward the right and their two little backs with the tiny wings along the sides are pointing down toward the left side.

You can’t deny that spring has come when the baby Allen’s hummingbirds are doubling their size weekly.

Mother hummingbird is working hard to feed her two hungry youngsters, a job made much easier by the rapid blooming of many flowering plants. Last week she was focused on catching a lot of insects, whether that was for protein for the tiny hatchlings or to rebuild her own resources after her time sitting on the eggs, I don’t know. Now she seems to prefer nectar.

Two other female Allen’s hummingbirds are also nesting in the adjacent area.

One of them has her nest hidden in a photinia bush. This morning I saw an unexpected possible predator in the same bush–a one-foot-long alligator lizard basking in the sun on a branch about four feet off the ground. Hopefully, mother hummingbird has placed her nest out of the lizard’s reach.

Two days ago, I watched a pair of bushtits working very hard to pull building materials from a hummingbird nest that was used two years ago. They’ve come back to the abandoned nest several times to gather fluff for their current nest.

Last year’s Allen’s hummingbird nest, from which the hatchlings were taken by a predator, was a site of great interest yesterday for a group of 20 bushtits. Initially, the group of tiny birds scouted out the old nest where their relatives have been gathering materials. Then one at a time, three individual bushtits came down within a foot of last year’s nest. There was a great deal of chatter.

After a short hunt for insects, several bushtits returned to the area above the abandoned nest. Two birds each came down within an inch of the empty nest and looked at it closely. Again there was a great deal of chatter. As the bushtits moved around in the shrubs they got within five feet of the new hummingbird nest. Mother hummingbird had had enough of the visitors. The bushtits are about the same size as the hummer, and no real threat, but she loudly chastised them and chased them off. I imagine within a few days, pairs of bushtits will be back to begin collecting their own building materials from the abandoned hummingbird nest.

Last year’s red-shouldered hawk nest has also been reduced to a thin layer of twigs. The red-shouldered hawks, ravens, crows and band-tailed pigeons have all been pilfering the sticks and twigs to build new or to renovate old nests.
Birds are efficient recyclers. We could learn a lesson from their sustainable use of resources.

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