Just as hard-working as they are beautiful, hummingbirds put in plenty of effort to create their tiny delicate nests.
Watch below to see a female Anna’s hummingbird weave the perfect spot for her eggs.
A Tiny Architect
Anna’s hummingbirds are petite, measuring just 3.9 to 4.3 inches and weighing only 0.1-0.2 ounces. With such minute bodies, these avian architects must choose small, soft, and lightweight materials for building their nests.
In this video, we see the hummingbird begin her nest with a platform of fluffy plant fibers. She uses her own tiny body to shape the soft, spongy cup of her nest and ties the whole thing together with nature’s own duct tape- spider silk!
The soft and flexible spider silk isn’t just good for keeping the next together– the materials of a hummingbird’s nest are carefully chosen to allow the nest to stretch as the chicks hatch and grow. How’s that for an incredible design feature?
Tiny leaves camouflage the outside of the bird’s nest, making it the ideal place to lay her clutch of two perfect eggs. Other hummers may choose moss, lichen, or even paint chips to camouflage the outside of their nests, and they’re not above stealing these materials from other active nests!
All About Hummingbird Nests
Just like the hummers themselves, hummingbird nests vary in size. According to All About Birds, the nest of an Anna’s hummingbird, like the one in the video above, is usually 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter.
Some hummingbird species, like the Bee hummingbird, build smaller nests, while others build larger ones.
Anna’s hummingbird nests are built in trees and shrubs 6-20 feet from the ground. They can be tricky to spot but watch for a round, cup-shaped nest made of soft, fluffy materials. Soft plant fibers, lichens and moss, and of course, spider silk are all common hummingbird nest materials.
Hummingbirds typically build their nests near a food source, so be sure to look in the trees and shrubs near your feeders!
If you do spot a nest, keep your distance! It’s illegal to move an active hummingbird nest.
The Female’s Work Is Never Done
The female hummingbird has a big job when it comes to nesting and caring for chicks. She builds the nest alone over a period of around one week.
Once the nest is completed, the female bird lays eggs and incubates the eggs, then cares for them alone.
These birds don’t mate for life; both sexes mate with more than one partner each mating season.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Hummingbirds Return to the Same Nest?
No. While hummingbirds do often return to the same mating sites from year to year, they do not reuse the same nest.
This is because the nest is designed to stretch as the chicks grow, and a nest that has already been used is too stretched out for tiny eggs.
Do Hummingbirds Use Bird Houses?
No. While there are tons of adorable hummingbird houses on the market, these birds are not cavity nesters, and they will not nest in a bird house, no matter how cute and tiny it is!
Hummingbirds build their nests in trees, shrubs, or other native plants.
How Big Are Baby Hummingbirds?
Baby hummingbirds vary in size based on the type of hummingbird they are, but they are usually less than one gram in weight and under an inch long.