platypus: (hummingbird - distant)
el diablo robotico ([personal profile] platypus) wrote2015-04-14 05:21 pm
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Looks like we've got a new neighbor.

DSC00168
That's a foot away from our bathroom window. There's nothing much growing in our front door area, but she has chosen that spindly tree (it's apparently an "evergreen pear," but I lived here for nine years without knowing that because it's not very interesting) for a nest.



I don't have any flowers to attract hummingbirds right now. There aren't even flowers in the garden outside the gate (maintained by the complex), so our house does not strike me as an overly hummingbird-friendly place. But recently I've kept getting glimpses of one, or hearing whirring wings as I left for work.

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A week ago, the hummingbird surprised me by being RIGHT THERE when I walked out the door. When she didn't immediately fly away, I stopped to shoot a bunch of pictures with my new camera:
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DSC00115 (I think she's scratching herself with a foot here!)

DSC00107 (The red feathers confused me at first, but I've since learned that female Anna's hummingbirds have a few red feathers on their throats. Nothing like the brilliant neck and forehead the males have, but I don't even get to see that too often -- if the sun and the angle aren't right, the iridescent feathers just look grayish. I could count on one hand the number of times I've really seen a hummingbird's feathers blazing red.)

UntitledIn one picture, I was surprised to see later, there was a twig in the hummingbird's beak. I wondered if she might build a nest nearby.

I didn't realize that that's exactly what she was doing, right in front of me. I did see her fly over to the branch nearest the window a few times, while I tried to keep the camera on her:

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But it wasn't easy to see what she was doing, and then she flew away and I had to go catch my bus.

"I should put out my hummingbird feeder," I thought. "It might persuade her to stick around." So on Friday, my day off, I found the feeder and looked for a good place to hang it. I poked around the tree a bit, but it's not a very good tree to hang things from. But there are some hooks in the wooden beams overhead, and we have some lengths of chain that I've used to hang flowerpots. So I dragged out a stepstool and tried a couple of different spots till I found one I liked. By then it was late afternoon, so I figured I'd put the feeder out the next morning. (I tell you this only so you can cringe with me in retrospect over how disruptive I was being.)

Saturday, I made some nectar (four parts water, one part sugar, the usual) and hung the feeder; before I even got back into the house, I heard hummingbird wings. Yay! As I closed the door, I saw the hummingbird take a quick drink and zip away.

I thought the bathroom window would give me a stealthy vantage point from which to observe the feeder, so I opened it. Which was when I saw this, a foot from my face.

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I closed the window again, very carefully.

So, yeah, there she is in her tiny nest, RIGHT by the window.

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I got a quick peek at the nest when she was away on one of her many brief excursions, and found one jellybean-sized egg:

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Which is SERIOUSLY TINY:

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A few days later, hummer-mom has become a familiar silhouette in the leaves.

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And this morning, there were two eggs.

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They always lay two, so that'll be it.

I heard a lot of chirping this morning -- the hummingbird seemed agitated, and (from an upstairs window) I saw her fly away. I went outside, wondering if something was threatening the nest, but everything seemed quiet. She was back in the nest by the time I left for work.

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I really hope everything goes well -- the eggs are supposed to incubate about 18 days, and then the chicks are in the nest for three weeks. Everything involved seems so tiny and fragile. Hummingbirds are apparently amazingly resilient, but as this site (sorry about the fuchsia) shows, it's not a sure thing: out of 13 nests where eggs were laid, nine actually had hatchlings, and 15 out of 18 hatchlings survived to leave the nest.

But let's assume that everything will go well. We might have hatchlings the last week of April! I can barely imagine the baby bird that would FIT in one of those eggs.


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