Every year hummingbirds migrate to breed, and that’s a chance for most of us who don’t live in the southern states to get to see them. If you prepare your garden and get your feeder ready, they may even come to breed in your back yard. If they do, then you may be lucky enough to see the babies hatch and grow, but always take care if the hummingbirds to nest in your garden. Keep your distance or the mother may see you as a threat.
Once the male hummingbird has played his part, he then leaves it all to mom to raise the babies. In fact, if the male comes back, mom may see him as a threat to her territory and chase him away.
Here we answer a few commonly asked questions about baby hummers.
How big is the nest?
Given the size of a fully grown hummingbird, it’s no surprise that their nests are tiny. You’ll have to look very hard to find one but they’re are on average 1-2 inches in diameter.
The nests are made from a mix of materials, including twigs, lichen, moss and spider silk. They are built off the ground in trees and shrubs and will be in an area which will be sheltered to protect them from wind, rain and sun. The size of the nest will be about the same size as a walnut or a ping pong ball.
How many babies does a hummingbird have?
Hummingbirds usually lay 2 eggs, but the second egg is often laid a day after the first one. In spite of this, both eggs will hatch at the same time. Mother hummingbirds know exactly how to incubate the eggs to make this happen.
The eggs are oblong in shape and are roughly the same size as a small jellybean.
Some female hummingbirds will have more than one brood of babies in a season. When they do this they will sometimes build a second nest while they are caring for their first brood. In some cases they may re-use their original nest.
How big is a baby hummingbird when it’s born?
When babies are first born, they are about an inch long, or the same size as a plump raisin, and they resemble one too. Their eyes are closed and their bodies are black with no feathers yet. They have short yellow beaks and yellow strands along their back. They weigh about 0.6 grams, which is about the third of the weight of a dime.
After just a couple of days they will be almost double in size.
As they cannot regulate their body temperature yet, for the first 8-12 days mom will spend most of her time on the nest to make sure they stay warm.
How do they develop?
Baby hummers start to grow very quickly, and within a couple of days they have almost doubled in size. While they are in the nest, they are already showing how clean they like to be. Even at this early age they make sure all their waste goes outside the nest.
After a week to 10 days their beaks have started to get darker and they will be covered in fuzzy, prickly little feathers which look a little like miniature quills.
By now they have also worked out how to regulate their body temperature, so mom doesn’t need to spend so much time on the nest.
At about 2 weeks old, they start to grow their real feathers and their beaks are much longer now.
At around 3 weeks they’re also starting to practice flapping their wings. They do this by using their feet to grip the bottom of the nest, so that they don’t accidentally fly off and this is when you might find one on the ground. Over the next few days they will start to fly away. This is when the mother hummingbird shows her brood how to find food. Once she’s done this she chases them out of her territory, and they are on their own as adult hummers.
What do they eat?
Unlike adult hummingbirds, baby hummers can’t live off a diet of nectar. If they did they would not develop properly and could even die. They need a good supply of protein to help their bodies grow and like most hummingbirds they need feeding regularly. While they are in the nest, their mother feeds them up to 3 times every hour.
The birds know when their mother is coming to feed them and they raise their heads ready. Mom will find and eat insects and nectar and then she uses her long beak to regurgitate this down their throats.
When do baby hummingbirds leave the nest?
Once they’ve learnt how to fly, the babies are ready to leave the nest after 3 weeks or so. For the first few days, their mother will watch over them and show them how to fend for themselves and find food. After this, they will be left to look after themselves as fully grown hummingbirds.
What are their main predators?
While they are in their nest, baby hummingbirds are unable to defend themselves. As the nests are in trees and shrubs it can be easy for some predators to get to the chicks, such as snakes, crows and ravens, squirrels and chipmunks.
So there you have it, everything you need to know about baby hummingbirds. We stumbled across an incredible video from Sheri Watson which follow’s two baby Allen hummingbirds from birth to fledgling, you can see it below, enjoy and thank you for reading.