Monday, March 12, 2012

First Hummingbird Nest of 2012

Allen's hummingbird nest from a previous year
Spring must be here, I found the first hummingbird nest of the year! Unfortunately, it is between 50 - 60 ft. high up in a Grevillea robusta (an Australian species commonly called a “silk oak,” despite the fact that it is not an oak at all). That means pictures of eggs and babies will be impossible.

The female Allen’s hummingbird is still actively building the nest. She is stitching together a masterpiece of plant fibers and moss wrapped in stretchy spider web. Typically, it is during this construction phase that I find it easiest to locate a hummingbird nest. The activity of the female in one vicinity offers the best opportunity to locate the walnut-sized structure with its ingenious camouflaging.

The Bewick’s wrens have also been busy testing out nest locations. There has been some activity at the lariat house, but no definite decision to nest there yet.

Even the Cooper’s hawks were gathering sticks yesterday.

Since nesting is in full swing it is time to put out some quality nesting material. Natural fibers can be difficult for birds to find in the city. I try to make some readily available with hopes the birds will use the raw cotton, wool fiber or dog hair rather than man-made fibers that can cause catastrophe. I watched two female hummingbirds fail in their nesting attempts in 2010 because of polyester fiber in their nests.
Putting out natural fibers can be as easy as this, a handful of raw cotton fibers wired to a plate and attached to a tree. In this case the red attracts the hummingbirds. They quickly discover that there is no food, but there are wonderful building fibers that are naturally soft, water repellent, pliable, nontoxic and biodegradable. And this isn’t just for hummingbirds. I’ve seen bushtits and goldfinches pulling off fibers as well. You don’t have to go out and buy anything. Comb your dog or cat and stick the cast-off fur in a bush. You may not see the builders taking supplies, but I can tell you, the Bewick’s wrens always line their nest with the black hairs from our dog.

Nesting birds need quality resources. Make them available and the building will happen in your yard.

No comments: