It is not every day that you get the chance to see a hummingbird’s nest. And it is even less frequent in New York City where we only have one species of hummingbird, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and they don’t nest very often. When they do nest it can be difficult to track down the nest’s exact location or you might figure out where the nest is but be unable to get a good look at it because it is too high or obscured by foliage. Fortunately for me, a kind birder pointed out a ruby-throat in the process of building a nest at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge last week and the nest is relatively low and unobstructed. This weekend I returned to the scene to find the bird spending lots of time sitting on the nest – possibly incubating eggs – though she didn’t seem entirely satisfied with the status of her nest.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird nests are built with a base of spider silk, which they use because as the nestlings grow the silk will expand to give them more room. Plastered around the outside of the nest is lichen, used for camouflage. A completed hummingbird nest resembles nothing so much as a knot on a branch, completely innocuous unless you know what you are looking at or get lucky enough to see the hummingbird land on it.
In this heavily cropped shot you can see the hummingbird adding a piece of lichen to the outside of the nest.
At the beginning of the video the hummingbird is busy adding more spider silk to the nest.
I plan to take full advantage of the presence of this hummingbird nest and will hopefully get the chance to check up on it often. How cool would it be if I manage to get video of her feeding youngsters?
On my second pass at the nest on Sunday morning I remembered that my Swarovski digiscoping rig can zoom. This shot was taken at about 60X magnification and is slightly cropped. I only managed to zoom that much because later in the morning the nest gets some direct sunlight.
Below is some video at a higher magnification than the first one. How many species can you identify singing in the background?
She sits tight in this video. Check out how her head-shape changes when she moves her feathers.
I can’t wait to check back the next time I get a chance! Make sure to swing by 10,000 Birds for updates!
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy, their son, Desmond Shearwater, and their indoor cat, B.B. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.
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