Birding Notes

Reflections on birds and other wildlife on the edge of a southern woodland

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Nest Sits Empty

The nest made by the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, though, has been empty every time I’ve looked at it for the past several days. It’s been 13 days since I first watched her constructing the nest, and she continued to work on it for at least three days more. On these following days, she seemed to work at a more leisurely pace and spent a lot of time sitting in the nest and looking around. Periods of rest like this alternated with periods of work, when she would fly away, bring something back, and add it to the nest.

As before, when she brought back material for the interior, she perched on the rim to poke it in, then sat in the nest and wiggled around, maybe working with her feet, and often poking at it with her long bill.

Once, after sitting for several minutes looking around, she whirred up to perch on the rim and look down into the nest, then flew up and down the pine branch, as if searching for something or checking out the immediate surroundings, then back to the nest where she settled down onto it, wiggled, fluttered her wings, poked with her bill, and slowly made a complete 360-degree turn, all the way around, wiggling the whole way – then whirred out onto the rim and flew away again. She was very pretty, iridescent green where the sun struck her feathers, striped with gray where the pine needles cast shadows.

By the third day, the nest had become much larger, rounder and deeper, extending further up the branch, and much more thickly covered with lichens. That was the last time I saw her in the nest. After then I was away from home for a couple of days and since then have not been out on the deck often, but have checked now and then and see only the empty nest – and we’ve not yet seen a male Hummingbird, though that doesn’t mean for sure there’s not one.


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