The Hummingbird’s Tale, or a Day-After-Mother’s-Day Story

Last year a hummingbird built a compact nest on the top of a decorative ornament that hands outside my back door. It features a glass ball set in a copper wire design. She built the nest in May, and being Arizona, it became quite warm and the sun beat down on the little nest. Hubby stapled a board up to protect the nest.

The mother sat diligently on the nest for many weeks, but finally left and never came back. We discovered one unhatched egg in the nest. We took the nest and egg and “shellacked” it and put it in our bookcase as a reminder of the little mother’s persistence.

When she came back and began to build another nest in the same spot this year, hubby and I were concerned. However, she built it in April, not May, and she deposited two eggs, which is the typical number for hummingbirds.

We watched the whole process, and this time we were all blessed. After we could see beaks poking up above the rim of the nest, hubby climbed up on a ladder and took this pic.

tiny hummingbirds

I captured the mother feeding babies here:

Then one day their little heads popped up way above the nest, as they awaited food from their mama.

Baby hummingbirds

Here is a still pic of mama feeding babies that are her own size:
hummingbird feeding

One morning I got up, checked the nest, and discovered it empty. I was a little sad that they had disappeared without saying goodbye. That’s when I noticed that one of the two birds was still near the nest, that he hadn’t taken flight yet! He was perched on the ornamental wire above the nest, trying to get up his courage to fly for the first time. And guess what I captured with my iPhone? Watch the top of the light colored area in the frame. Be patient; it isn’t very long, but takes a few seconds before I get the right angle.

For a few hours they flew around the area, even coming up to our picture window and looking in (whirring in place) several times. The next day I saw a hummingbird in one of my trees and wondered if it was mama or one of the “babies.”
hummingbird in tree

These guys kept me focused for a few weeks on the miracles.

What is your spring miracle?


Filed under Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, Nonfiction, Photographs, Writing

67 responses to “The Hummingbird’s Tale, or a Day-After-Mother’s-Day Story

  1. Aw…I just love hummingbirds. Great photos, Luanne!

  2. A beautifully photographed and narrated tale. For me, spring itself is the miracle. Of my more recent posts, perhaps this one is a good example:

  3. We get birds nesting in our yard which has a lot of trees. Right now we have a nest of catbirds cackling all day but we never had a hummingbird nest.

    • Kate, I had to look up catbirds! I love their name and they look like cute guys. Are they nice birds and how did they get that name, I wonder? We had a finch nest and a cardinal nest and now the baby quail are out running on their little short legs!

      • They are cute birds but they make sounds like a cat (hence the name). With a nest nearby I hear all this noise and think it’s one of my cats. We get finches, cardinals, robins and chickadees but nothing nests in a spot for us to see. Probably has something to do with our cats. Awww….baby quails….

        • Do your cats go outside? Is that it? Mine are strictly indoor cats, but also they are so old they rarely sit at the window to scare birds ;).

          • I have one old one that goes outside but not much. When he does, he’s not threat to anything. However, the rest of the cats stare out the window (occasionally banging on the window) and go into the screened porch. I think there is a nest of some sort in the front shrubs because the cats pile on the hassock to look out that window but I can’t see it and don’t want to go outside to get everyone more upset.

            • Oh, I bet the cats on the screened porch do make the birds stay a little farther away! But how fun for the cats to have a screened porch!!

  4. What a great story of tiny miracles! My spring miracle….I guess it would be that I transplanted some baby columbines last year that grew wild from seed dispersed from a native columbine someone had given me. Most of the transplants have survived the hard winter and are starting to bloom, plus more babies are coming up, ready to be moved to better spots in the garden. Another miracle is the little nopales cactus that is, weirdly enough, native to Michigan. It had had a rough winter, and just lay there flat. But a couple of weeks ago, it stood up and is now developing a bud. Bless it’s little heart. Every native plant (lead plant, wild geranium, etc.) that comes back on its own, year after year, is a miracle.

    • WJ, that these plants can survive Michigan winters is truly a miracle. I love hearing about the lead plant and wild geranium. And I miss columbines so much as we don’t have them in Arizona. We don’t have any of the more fragile Victorian looking flowers like columbines, morning glories, delphiniums, etc.

  5. That’s amazing Luanne and though the nest looked a little precarious it seemed a prettily appropriate place in the end 🙂

    • Last year we were terrified for that nest, but it turned out rightfully so as it was doomed from the beginning, most likely. And she was so persistent, sitting there so much longer than was necessary. But this year it proved to be a perfect place for these little goobers. The wire above was ideal, almost like a tree!

  6. Hummingbirds are miracles of flight – the helicopters of the bird world. What a thrilling sequence of photos and videos! Every year I plant plenty of red petunias in hanging baskets with the hope that we’ll get hummingbird visitors. We get one or two every summer that I see and it is amazing every time. I agree with Derrick. In the frozen north spring is a miracle.

    • Yes, little helicopters! When they flew up to the picture window, that is what they looked like, spinning in place. Do hummingbirds like red petunias? We have so many flowering bushes and shrubs and trees by us that they are all over. You must love it when you see them in person!

  7. Luanne – that is so exciting and life-affirming!! I’m glad you were able to capture these moments, and watching the little one overcome his fear of flying – it’s the universal tug at the heartstrings as our babies ‘leave the nest’ for the first time.

    • Yes, it’s quite like that. In fact, a friend said she saw it as a metaphor for what she’s going through right now with her daughter. Of course, human kids sometimes come home for a bit, but hummingbirds don’t. When they are gone, they are gone. Actually seeing that bird take off reminds me of a Linda Pastan poem called “To a Daughter Leaving Home” where the child rides off on her bicycle, her hair flapping behind her.

      • I’m going to look up that poem. I can vividly remember the day a couple summers ago when Raqi rode her bike down the block around the corner and out of sight. She was (rightfully) oblivious to the sea change, but I burst into tears because it was the first time in her 7 years that we were together and she left my sight. Man, those moments stick with you!

      • Have you heard Neil Young’s song to his daughter when she leaves for college? It’s called ‘Here for You’ on his Prairie Wind album. The lyrics are a real tearjerker. You can listen to it on I-tunes or probably find it on YouTube.

  8. This is so sweet. How wonderful you were able to catch it. It’s moments like this that give us a reprieve from the ickiness going on in the world. Beautiful wonders are out there. We just need to pay attention to them.

    • Carrie, I was so thrilled to see that the baby was still on the wire. Of course, my camera battery was dead, so I ran for my iPhone and got it just in time. And you’re right about the ickiness. Man, we sure have enough of that going around right now! So the miracles must be witnessed.

  9. How lucky was that, to get the videos you did? What a sweet story!

  10. Luanne – wondrous, simply wondrous – I am posting to a friend’s FB page!! She will LOVE this story and pictures…thank you so much!!

    • Sheila, I’m so glad you enjoyed it and hope your friend does, too! This hummingbird family made me feel so blessed to be there at the right time and right place.

  11. I love this, Luanne. Hummingbirds are amazing. I’m not surprised that you were fascinated for hours by them. Every one in a while, we get them here, much later in the summer.
    I can’t think of a particular spring miracle at this moment. Spring itself always seems like a miracle to me after winter’s dreariness.

  12. Amazing stuff, nature. I find it so interesting that such a small and delicate animal would nest in such a small and delicate place!
    We have our share of birds’ nests, but they’re much higher, and more hidden.
    Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • The nests are very sweet. Smaller than what fits in the palm of my hand, for sure! The finch nests this year were higher up. It makes my stomach feel nervous when I see quail nests on the ground, though, because I immediately think of egg-eating snakes slithering around . . . .

  13. Last week when we brought home 30 baby chicks from the post office–chicks are miracles.

  14. Wonderful. We’ve had bummers for years, and love towatch them. But I’ve never seen a Nest or the babies. Thanks for sharing yours!

    • Hummingbirds have always seemed so special, so when she built the nest last year it was thrilling. And then so sad the way it turned out. So this year was like a triumphant do-over!

  15. Beautiful, Luanne. It is awesome that you witnessed this sliver of wonder.

  16. Wonderful photos and films, Luanne! Hope you had a gorgeous Mother’s Day 🙂 We love hummingbirds and put up feeders whenever we hear any buzz by, but we haven’t been so fortunate to have any nesting near us. That would be a Spring Miracle to last a lifetime!

    • We have so many flowering trees in Arizona that we don’t need feeders, but I heard there’s a guy near here with 12 feeders in a row and his yard is like a beehive with the whirring of the hummingbirds. Yes, I’m so thrilled with our miracle!

  17. Such a wonderful story this Luanne, that’s amazing that they nested on that ornament like that, wow! Your photographs and videos are wonderful, bringing to life for me these exquisite birds that remind me so much of my life in California and the feeders we used to hang from the kitchen window. Thank for that… xoxo

    • Do you have hummingbirds of any kind in England? Or any birds that small? I love reminding you of Cali! 🙂 Xo

      • No hummingbirds in England sadly Luanne. But we do have lots of beautiful birds, not forgetting my Sweet Robin of course! The smallest birds we have is the Wren. They are quite tiny and plump and flit through the hedgerows and bushes eating insects. They are not pretty like hummies but so, so cute 🙂 And I love that you remind me of Cali too! xo

  18. Wonderful to read and see pictures of your hummingbird family. They have great taste choosing the ornament for a nesting place. I once watched a pair of robins build a nest in a gorgeous blue spruce tree near my living room window. I watched the procession from nest- building to the appearance of eggs, from hatching to feeding babies, and watched every day to catch the babies take flying lesson. Like you I didn’t get up early enough to see when they finally flew away and felt like an “empty nester”.

  19. Very beautiful pictures and post. I’m from Minnesota, and whenever we see a hummingbird, it feels like a very special event. It would be nice to have them live so close by!

    • I see one almost every day and they always seem special! I’m originally from Michigan. I always loved the chickadees in winter!

  20. Luanne for someone who will never see a hummingbird over here in Oz I thank you for sharing this experience. It is on my bucket list to travel somewhere and see them in the wild. They are so exquisite and a passion of mine. Catching the first flight is so precious.

    • Katy, you will have to visit me :). We have hummingbirds year around.. Do you have any tiny birds?

      • Luanne we have all kinds of robin’s and small birds but the one that captures my imagination is the Humming bird and we do not have them in Australia you are so, so lucky. i would sit and watch them all day.

  21. Luanne,
    Beautiful photos to accompany your post. I will soon be hanging out my two feeders to welcome those delightful summer friends back to our cottage in a couple of weeks up in Michigan. I can’t wait! 🙂

  22. That is indeed a miracle!

  23. Amazing persistence, Luanne. I admire her being so resilient and this sweet mother hummingbird’s ability to produce a successful nest of two. We could learn from nature and how it bounces back and tries again. This was a precious tale you shared with us and I enjoyed the photographs, too.

  24. It was a priviledge and a delight to see those videos and photos.

  25. I felt very lucky to see this intricate, intimate life of a hummingbird’s nesting and it filled me with wonder, Luanne.

    • She’s been feeding the second batch, Robin! They are so precious! She is getting a little skinny, though, from all this work!

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  28. Wow, what amazing photos, particularly that last video! The hummingbird was so tentative before finally getting those little wings to carry him away.

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