Monday, March 18, 2019

Nesting Allen's Hummingbirds Spring 2019

This nest of Allen's hummingbirds are nearly ready to fledge.
These two little guys should take their first flights in the next 3-5 days.

It is hard for Cornell University to imagine, but this is our third nest of Allen's hummingbirds this 2019 season. (We enter data on our nesting birds in Cornell's NestWatch data base.) The first eggs were laid in a poorly placed nest in early January. That nest was completely soaked in a rain storm and failed. 

2nd nest with one chick
The second nest was established by a more experienced female and she was able to raise one chick to fledge on March 9th. The second egg never hatched. A record cold February may have played a role.

Another chick in a fourth nest hatched on March 16th, its sibling should hatch sometime today.

All of these Allen's hummingbird nests are in native hollyleaf cherry shrubs. The plant is slow growing. It's wide leaves are waxy to survive in hot dry summer temperatures and therefore provide protection when it does rain.

The first female, however, has taken a bold step and built her second nest under the protection of the patio. Anna's hummingbirds build nests on man-made objects fairly frequently. It is rather unusual for our Allen's hummingbirds. She has two eggs in her new nest.

This location should be protected from wind, rain, and even most predators. The biggest issue may be that when chicks first start to flap their wings, they won't have neighboring branches to flutter to. They won't be able to sidestep back to the nest. The location is also about 20 ft off the ground. That is a long way for a curious youngster to fall.
Have you lost count? In 2019, so far:
  • 5 nests
  • 1 successfully fledged Allen's hummingbird
  • 4 chicks currently in nests
  • 2 eggs still being incubated
Unexpected fluctuations in weather can cause nests to fail. Strong wind, pounding rain, cold snaps, can all take a toll on young hummingbirds. A rain storm is expected on Wednesday. Hopefully it will be lite. A heavy rain could make the first days of flying and survival without the protection of the nest a challenge for these youngsters.

The half siblings of these chicks from 2018 
Climate change and hummingbirds 

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