The life cycle of a hummingbird from egg to adult is an interesting one and can take several weeks. But, you might be wondering, how long does it take for hummingbird eggs to hatch?
Depending on the species of hummingbird and the weather conditions, hummingbird eggs can take anywhere from 14 to 21 days.
Let’s discuss this process in more detail.
- 1 When Do Hummingbirds Lay Their Eggs?
- 2 How A Hummingbird Lays Her Eggs
- 3 How The Brooding Process Works
- 4 What Happens After The Eggs Hatch?
- 5 How A Mother Hummingbird Feeds Her Babies
- 6 How Young Hummingbirds Learn To Fly
- 7 What Happens After The Young Hummingbirds Leave The Nest?
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions:
- 9 Final Thoughts
When Do Hummingbirds Lay Their Eggs?
This again depends on the species and also the climate. Generally speaking, the most common time of year for nesting is May, especially for migrating birds.
However, you might be interested to learn that non-migratory birds such as the Anna’s or Allen’s hummingbird may lay their eggs as late as November and as early as February the following year. This is especially true if they live in warmer climates such as Southern California.
These non-migratory hummers will also lay several broods each year, while migratory birds will only manage 2 or 3 broods per year.
How A Hummingbird Lays Her Eggs
Another interesting fact about the female hummingbird is that she will only lay 2 eggs and not at the same time. She lays the first egg which is about the size of a pea or a coffee bean. Then she’ll wait a day and lay the second egg the following day.
Incubation doesn’t start until the second egg has been laid. The primary reason for this is so that both eggs will hatch at the same time.
Hummingbird eggs are tiny and perfectly white. They can weigh between 0.4 and 1.4 grams. These perfectly-formed eggs will nestle together in their tiny nest. They need to be kept warm without overheating so that they will hatch successfully.
How The Brooding Process Works
Once she’s laid the second egg, the female hummingbird will start the incubation process. This can take from 14 to 18 days. However, in colder areas, it can take up to 21 days.
To incubate her eggs, a mother hummingbird needs to maintain the temperature of the eggs from 96 to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. During this process, she has to distribute the heat evenly so they don’t get overheated.
To do this, the mother hummingbird will turn the eggs with her beak and feet. She does this several times a day to ensure even heat distribution.
Generally, the female bird will sit on the eggs for about 50 minutes every hour. This leaves her around 10 minutes to leave the nest and feed. It’s really important that she doesn’t stay away from the nest too long, otherwise the eggs will lose too much heat.
Therefore, if you have hummingbirds nesting in your garden, make sure that you have plenty of nectar available for the little female birds so that they don’t have to travel too far from the nest.
Once the internal temperature of the eggs is maintained at a constant 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s time for the eggs to hatch. The tiny baby birds have a sharp hook on the end of their beaks. This allows them to break through the shell easily.
After the young birds have hatched, the mother hummingbird will toss the shells out of the nest to make room for the baby birds. Remember, each hummingbird nest is very small and can only comfortably accommodate two baby birds.
What Happens After The Eggs Hatch?
The new babies are born completely bald and with their eyes closed. They rely both on each other and their mother for warmth. For this reason, if only one egg hatches or the mother has only laid one egg, it’s rare for the tiny baby hummer to survive.
A baby hummingbird only weighs around 0.62 grams when it’s newly hatched. Within about 7 days, these tiny birds will double in size and will start to develop pin feathers. This allows them to regulate their body temperature a little better.
Within about 14 days, the tiny hummers will start to open their eyes. After another 4 days, actual feathers will start growing and babies will have their eyes completely open.
After another 10 days or so, the baby birds have grown to almost full size and struggle for space inside the nest. They are also fully alert and hungry!
How A Mother Hummingbird Feeds Her Babies
As you can imagine, these tiny birds have a voracious appetite. They need lots of protein and nutrients to help them grow so quickly. They get this protein from the insects that the mother bird collects.
While foraging, the female bird will collect insects and nectar and store them in her crop. This is an enlarged esophagus that many birds have. It’s designed to store food for regurgitating. In a female bird the crop is found near the throat as an expandable muscular pouch.
Once she’s gathered enough food in her crop, the mother bird will fly back to the nest to feed her babies. She does this by thrusting her beak into the baby’s throat and regurgitating the food.
The mother bird will continue to feed her babies in this way for about 3 weeks. After this time, the young birds will start to forage for their own food but will still rely on the mother bird for nourishment. This is common among many bird species, not just hummingbirds.
How Young Hummingbirds Learn To Fly
Baby hummers will start to flex their wings around three weeks after hatching. At this time, they start to stretch their wings to strengthen the tiny muscles. They’ll also start to clean their feathers.
The tiny birds will grip the edge of the nest with their claws and flap their wings, often hitting their sibling in the face.
Around 26 days after hatching, the first juvenile will start to leave the nest. The young birds usually take it in turns to leave the nest, with the more courageous one leaving first.
This complete cycle from egg to leaving the nest takes around five to six weeks. Once both birds have left the nest, they will never return to it.
What Happens After The Young Hummingbirds Leave The Nest?
Once the juvenile birds have left the nest, they need to communicate verbally with their mother so that she can find and feed them. They’ll emit tiny chirping sounds to alert the mother bird to their location.
The mother hummingbird then continues to feed the juveniles for another one to two weeks after they’ve left the nest. During this time she’ll also be busy teaching them to forage for their own food.
Once they’re fully independent, these young hummers are ready to embark on their own life journey.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How long do baby hummingbirds stay in the nest?
After hatching, baby hummingbirds will stay in the nest anywhere from 18 to 28 days.
Do hummingbirds use the same nest twice?
Hummingbirds rarely use the same nest twice. They will, however, build a new nest on top of the old one. Some hummers do this year after year.
Do hummingbirds leave their nest at night?
Generally, hummingbirds will not leave the nest at night. The mother hummingbird only leaves the nest several times a day to feed.
What do you do when a baby hummingbird falls out of the nest?
If the nest is clear and has not been invaded by ants or other insects, gently pick up the baby and place it back in the nest. It’s a myth that mother hummingbirds will reject the baby if it’s been touched by human hands.
The life cycle of a baby hummingbird from a tiny egg to a fully fledged adult bird is truly a marvel of nature. Once the mother hummingbird has been mated and built her nest, she will lay two tiny eggs, two days apart.
Then, the incubation process begins and the eggs will start to hatch around 14 to 21 days after being laid. During this time, the female bird will sit on the nest for the most part of the day and night to keep them warm. She only leaves the nest for about 5 to 10 minutes every hour to nourish herself.
Once the baby birds hatch, the mother has her hands full foraging for insects and nectar to keep her babies fed and nourished. The entire cycle from egg to young adult bird takes around five to six weeks.
It’s quite common for a female hummingbird to build a second nest while she’s still feeding her babies. This ensures that once the first brood of babies have left the nest, she can lay another set of eggs and start the process all over again.
Have you been lucky enough to witness the growth cycle of a hummingbird from tiny egg to juvenile bird? Please feel free to share your stories with us in the comments below.