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Our feathered friends, birdbrains, and wingnuts

Two nests

This is one that fell. It’s made with plastic strips and polyester fiber filling! I think it’s from an English sparrow.
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This one is being built on my back patio! It’s from an Anna’s hummingbird. She is also using polyester fiber filling. And flowers from something like a bottle brush tree maybe? I thought it so sweet that she’s lining her nest with red flowers! Like she’s teaching her babies from the start what to look for? Now I’m curious about nest variation among species! Also, this nest seems so precarious!! The branch constantly sways in the wind like a vine! It’s about four feet from the ground! I heard that hummingbirds like to nest near people and loud machinery because predators are afraid of that stuff. And with Anna’s hummers, there is zero help from the dads!! No nest building, no egg sitting, no feeding! She does it all herself! We’ve been watching her build the nest and it’s so interesting! She used dirty spider silk to attach debris to the branch to make a little pad, then started building it around her body while sitting on it. I don’t know if it’s done yet but this took two days
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Both eggs have been laid (hummers usually lay two) and incubation is well underway. Here is a picture after the eggs were laid last week.
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It’s really hard to get a picture of her on the nest because I don’t have a telephoto lens. When she sits on it her little tail goes up like a rooster tail and she rests with her beak pointing up to the sky about a 45 degree angle.

I don’t let pup out to go potty unless she’s off the nest. Don’t want to worry her or waste her precious energy. So he gets multiple short walks out front—which he likes!

Today I saw her flying all around the patio; she was grabbing silk threads into a wad and stuffed them in the nest. I was surprised that she continues to upkeep her nest, I didn’t know they do that but it makes sense.
 
Found out she’s a broad-billed hummer and not an Anna’s—which is cool for me. Broad-bills are local and they come in a beautiful purple and teal color plus the males have a cute pink bill. Anna’s are kind of local, but they are also super wide spread, very common across the West, and a bit aggressive toward other species. I like that “our” girl is the more shy local type. It’s kind of hard to tell female hummers apart but we saw some characteristics of her facial features and the nest construction that lean toward broad billed.

Something cute about hummers is the babies have little short beaks. I don’t know how long hummers incubate. Chickens are about four weeks.
 
I found out hummers incubate for an average of a little over two weeks. So we’re at the due date. I’m so scared to look because I don’t want her to be frightened. It’s already so hot now that I have to water the patio plants every day. Usually when I go out in the morning she flies off but this morning she didn’t and when I got close to water the plants in that corner I heard something akin to a scream or alarm whistle come from her direction which I interpreted as “Back the f*ck off.” So I did and refused to look in her direction, pretended I didn’t even know she was there. I finished up watering and coiled the hose: I saw she had flown off but I knew she was watching so I didn’t want to spook her by getting close to the nest again. I went inside and closed the sliding glass door then I saw her quickly return.

I have so much anxiety about those babies. 🥴 My narcissistic fragile ego is saying that if anything happens to them it will surely be my fault because I looked too much and stressed her out. 🤦‍♀️ I’m annoying myself and my daughter. She yells at me to quit it when I start talking like that.
 
The babies have hatched! I didn’t check on them for two days because of my anxiety over scaring the mom. Yesterday afternoon Daughter checked and the look on her face was priceless—huge wonder and delight! She saw them lurching their heads side to side and also their impossibly short beaks. I looked but all I saw was a lump of grey color and what looked like the tiniest chicken wing I’ve ever seen.

Daughter refused to let me look again for the rest of the afternoon, out of respect for the mom. We saw her feeding one time which is amazing as her beak is like 3 times longer than their whole bodies. This morning when I watered I peeked and took a picture. Very difficult to see them as they are so dark and like the size of pinto beans. They didn’t wave their heads for me. I had to mess with the contrast and brightness to get any visual on them.

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Daughter had told me that one was bigger than the other. I said that since we can tell them apart we can name them. She said, “I wonder what she named them?” I suggested she might name her babies after flowers. Daughter laughed and said that would be like us naming our kids after the food we eat.

I think in the picture Little Bird (at the top) is on its left side. So their bellies must be pink! Its right leg is drawn up and its beak is pointing to the left of the nest. Big Bird (bottom) has its head to the right, looking down. It must feel so comforting when Mama settles over them with her warm fluffy body.
 
I was looking at the picture again and I think you can see Little Bird’s umbilical stump! I pointed to it in this picture
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Many people don’t know that birds have umbilical cords! They connect to the yolk. One reason why it’s generally a bad idea to help a baby bird (or reptile) hatch is because after they have pipped (made a tiny hole) they stay in the egg for another day or two absorbing the remaining yolk. They don’t have to eat for the first day or so. And if the umbilical cord gets torn off before it’s ready to separate they can bleed out.

Another neat thing about egg hatching is they breathe before they pip the shell. First they break through the inner membrane into the air pocket, that’s when they take their first breath and begin using their voice to communicate with the parent sitting on the nest.
 
Oh no! Mom didn’t return to the nest tonight! The babies are at most 8 days old. She’s not supposed to sleep off the nest until they are around two weeks old. If she’s not there in the morning I will try to take them to the wildlife center. 😓
 
Prayers answered. This morning when I went to let my dog out the mother hummingbird did a dramatic double swoop in front of my sliding glass door (in my mind heralded by trumpets) then drank long and deep from the feeder and settled onto the babies. My heart felt so peaceful in that moment, I just sat and savored it. I can’t believe these little hummers have completely captured my heart in this manner. It’s just that they are so close. One less thing to worry about. I feel like she’s my mother protecting me and I’m a naked baby. Oh jeez.
 
I’m just so amazed that she spent the whole night away from them. I never realized that was a thing but it makes sense. They are changing so fast now. Eyes about to open. Pinfeathers well underway. I guess they can regulate their temperatures now. Also it’s so interesting to me how their poops look so bird-like because I’m used to hummingbirds just shitting sugar, so I’m guessing that she feeds them a thick slurry of bugs and sugar. Anyway, I am humbled by her wisdom and strength.
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They are changing so fast now!

She doesn’t even sit on them anymore but she does sit on the edge of the nest, just to be near them sometimes. They will probably fledge in another week or so! Amazing how fast it goes!

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