Wrapping up the Hummingbird posts

Thanks dog and cat folks for tuning in to our hummingbird news!

Looking very crowded on Saturday

Looking very crowded on Saturday

We wrapped up the season with a little drama. On August 1st we had our annual Fremont Fest celebration, which means the courtyard was crowded and noisy – live music seemed to make the babies even more restless than they had already been – one baby was already stretching up a bit, and looking antsy the day before. While the music was pumping, the chicks were really shifting around – I was nervous that they were going to make a break for it and wind up on the pavement. Well, the next day we came in to work and heard the distinct cheeping vocalization that the chicks only seem to make once they have left the nest. That little guy was really cheeping. I finally got a moment to break away and look for the fledgling, but it took me quite a bit of time to find it. One reason is that those contact calls are designed to be hard for predators to locate the source – everywhere you stand it seems to be coming from a different direction. The other reason was that the baby was on the edge of the planter- a foot above the ground, right over a big drain. Mom flew in and was obviously a bit distressed about the situation herself, but I didn’t want to interfere. We put our sandwich board in a spot that would block dogs/kids from coming too close, but then I started thinking about that drain… Pretty soon mom left to gather food, and I took the opportunity to scoop up the baby and run it upstairs, where I deposited it into a balcony planter that’s only a few feet from the nest.  I’ve handled wuite a few birds, and even a few hummingbirds in the past (I was a zookeeper and I’ve also been lucky enough to be part of a number of bird banding projects) but it was funny to hold that baby, even for a moment – there was hardly anything to him. Light as air. It stayed in the planter for 20 or so minutes before launching itself towards the bamboo where it pretty much crash landed into the branches and luckily stayed there. Then, an hour later, there it was again but this time right on the ground. So, I scooped it up again (when mom wasn’t looking) and ran it back upstairs. This time he flew into the bamboo and stayed there. Whew!

Then the 2nd baby really wanted out of there too.

standing on edge of nest

standing on edge of nest

soon to go

soon to go

looks bigger than mom due to still having some fluff

looks bigger than mom due to still having some fluff

maybe have a little something to eat before I go

maybe have a little something to eat before I go

By Monday they were both out and doing just fine

Note: my photo won’t publish. Check back in a day or so to see both babies on a branch.

Hot Little Hummingbirds

Portland’s having a really hot week – it’s 106 degrees right now, and it might even get a bit higher. Mom and both the babies are staying very still, open-mouthed breathing. I’d do anything to get them some water, but it doesn’t seem very possible. I’ll have to trust that they’ll do as well as the last batch did in that terrible lashing storm.

hot2

for anyone keeping track, they are 17 and 16 days old, respectively. They will fledge around day 23

hot babies have to open mouth breath

hot babies have to open mouth breath

Starting to Get a Little Crowded

7/22/09 -  9 days old - filling up the nest

7/22/09 - 9 days old - filling up the nest

One interesting thing I noticed – on Saturday the 18th, one of the babies from the last brood showed back up and spent the day in the courtyard. All day long I heard him hopefully begging from mom (each time she left the nest or returned he’d vocalize like he used to) It was a busy day in the store, so I couldn’t watch too much and so have no idea if at some point during the day she relented and fed him, but the few times I saw them near each other she wasn’t acknowledging him. She didn’t chase him off either though. Wonder if he’s finding the big world harder than he thought. Guess it’s always worth asking mom for a handout.

Check out this amazing link about how incredibly fast the male Anna’s Hummingbird’s dive is during his mating display:
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/44531/title/Hummingbird_pulls_Top_Gun_stunts

Newest Hatchlings! (Anna’s Hummingbird babies)

tiny eggshells

tiny eggshells

If you haven’t been following along, we’ve had an eventful spring filled with lovely hummingbird babies hatching right outside our door. This is the second nest this season that she’s had in our courtyard. How lucky we are! See older posts for the first nest photos.

Mon July 13th – 1st egg hatched
Tues July 14th – 2nd egg hatched – tiny eggshells discarded from the nest
Now that the last babies have officially flown the coop, she can dedicate herself to feeding these babies (incredible weight gain noticeable each day – they grow so very quickly!)

Wed July 15 - two babies at a hard angle to see

Wed July 15 - two babies at a hard angle to see

betterview1
mom feeds baby#1

mom feeds baby#1

mom feeds baby#2

mom feeds baby#2

High drama

Yesterday was a busy one for mom, as there was a squirrel in the bamboo, and the fool thing seemed stuck up there. It clearly was physically OK and could have left if it wanted to, but it seemed paralyzed with some sort of deep-seated anxiey. He stayed stock still wherever he was, but mom hummer was flipping out. She had one baby in the nest and one was in the branches above, and she was quite upset that there was anyone else in her bamboo nursery. Poor thing – she expended so much energy yelling at that squirrel and swooping angrily around trying to chase it off, but he was like a statue. We shook some branches several times during the day and each time the squirrel would jump to another branch and stick there for a while. As if she didn’t have enough to do with feeding herself, feeding the babies, and building her new nest – now she’s got to fuss with that squirrel. By late afternoon she had started to relax and seemed to give up eventually, but I think the squirrel waited until the cover of darkness to leave the bamboo.

you can see mom hummer in pissed off flight above squirrel

you can see mom hummer in pissed off flight above squirrel

Later after she gave up she didn’t even mind when the fledgling and the squirrel were hanging out right near each other

squirrel-2

Anyway, second baby fledged in the early evening – yay!

Empty nest

Empty nest

I came in this morning and saw her on the new nest already – sure enough, there’s an egg in there already! Wow – she wasted no time at all.  Now, she’s sitting on the egg, leaving to feed herself and collect food for the kids, and feeding them too. They’re so sweet, just hanging out on the upper branches, occasionally flying a foot or two up in the air and back down again.

baby-above

Exciting day – flying!

Two days ago they looked really big. Their bills were getting longer, their feathers looked just about ready, and they were very visible from down below.

day 21 from below

day 21 from below

From above it’s looking pretty tight in that nest

day21innest

Yesterday they seemed more upwardly oriented.

dayy22prefledge

One of them in particular started to seem really restless

day22prefledge2

I got one of the best photos yet of mom and babies together. I hope you can make out that their bills are open, asking for food

feeding

Last night before we left the more restless one was really fidgety, but this morning it was still in the nest. As the day went on, that one really started to make some moves towards flight – stepping out of the nest, really fidgeting, and looking up up up. Finally it started to practice beating its wings – you of course can’t see the wings in these next shots as they beat so fast!

practicing

practicing2Last night, I was showing a customer the nest and we were laughing because the active nestling had climbed up and was standing on its sibling’s head to practice flapping. The interesting thing was that we heard cheeping that sounded like mom coming back in, but she wasn’t around – I realized that both little babies, especially the active one was making the noise. I offered to show her the new nest, and while we were looking at it, wouldn’t you know it – I heard a loud “cheep!” from the nest – we went back over and there was only one baby in the nest! I’m certain that was an excited lift-off noise. It had made it about 10 feet up, and was perched on the branch. We waited to see mom come back. She came back in and we saw the fledgling flapping in a begging gesture. Mom landed at the nest and the fledgling above made a very highpitched noise that sounded like a hearing test beep. She looked all around, fed the baby in the nest and flew off again – a little disappointing for the humans below – we of course wanted her to visit the fledgling right away and congratulate it. 🙂

That fledgling made a few more little flights, buzzing and sort of bumbling through the bamboo.

fledgedMeanwhile in the nest, the other fledgling seemed very restless and started right away to do a lot of preening of its feathers and stretching up towards the sky. You’d think he’d enjoy the newfound roominess, but of course it seemed more urgent at that moment to get on out of there like it’s sibling.

one is the lonliest number...

one is the lonliest number...

Cuteness

It’s getting crowded in the nest. You can pretty easily see them from the ground now, as they’re overflowing the edges of the nest.

two peas in a pod

two peas in a pod

Yesterday they had noticable new tail feathers, and mom is actively preening their wings each time she feeds them. The day before we had a big rainstorm and I went up to see how they were doing. I wish I could have captured it on film – both of them had their bills straight up to the sky, and they were drinking the rain with their little tongues flicking.

Meanwhile the other nest is growingnest2

She’s Already Building Her Next Nest!

2nd nest, day 2 of nestbuilding

2nd nest, day 2 of nestbuilding

How interesting this all is! Yesterday (day 14 from first hatching) the mother started construction on her next nest in the other bamboo planter in our courtyard.  I heard her fly in, so stopped to watch what I thought would be her hunting for insects for the babies. Instead, she landed on a branch and I saw her doing something that looked like preening her belly, but she came up with fluff in her beak and started jabbing it into a clump of something on the branch. I quickly realized that the little clump was a new nest – as if she isn’t busy enough feeding those two fat little hatchlings! It was interesting to me to see how much down she was working into what is essentially the base of the nest.  Today I saw her fly in with nesting material, put it into the nest, add a bit more down, then fly over to the babies and feed them, then fly off again. Really so much energy she must be expending! However, it does seem efficient that by the time these babies fledge she’ll have a nest pretty much ready to go for the next clutch.  When we originally noticed her building the first courtyard nest, someone had called the Audubon society to talk to them about it, and they said they thought it was probably her 2nd clutch of the season, as it was a little late for it to be her first. (they normally have 2-3 in a season). My books don’t mention whether they reuse the same nest, but this certainly answers that question. Makes me wonder if the first clutch was also somewhere in the bamboo and we hadn’t seen it.  I’m reassured by her building this new nest right in the courtyard – she must not have been too put off by all of the spectators that we’ve created by pointing out this nest to so many people. We worried that we were going to create stress for her, even though she seemed relatively habituated (after buzzing us occasionally while we stood down below the first few days) to people looking.  Now I feel like she must really be OK with it or she wouldn’t have chosen the courtyard bamboo again. The good news is that this new nest seems to be even more in the open, so photography should be really a lot easier for this next clutch. Perhaps I will invest in a new camera…

Meanwhile, the babies continue to grow quickly and thrive. (Maybe she can’t reuse a nest because of how stretched out it gets from these big babies!)

day 13 from first hatchling's hatching

day 13 from first hatchling's hatching

day 15 from 1st hatching

day 15 from 1st hatching

today, more feathers, yellow disappearing from ever lengthening beaks, and first time I’ve noticed an eye open on hatchling #1 (I’m guessing which is which as one seems slightly ahead of the other, which makes a bit of sense as they hatched one day apart). We saw one of them flicking its long hummer tongue.