Knit Flix

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Raising Junior

We witnessed a little miracle on our front porch this spring. I noticed an Anna's Hummingbird hovering around a plant that didn't have blossoms on it so I wasn't sure what the interest was all about. Well, it turns out she was building a nest in spot that was visible from a front window. She used leaves, feathers, twigs, and spiderweb. Exciting!

Once it was finished, she sat on the nest and only left the area to feed. On April 1 I peeked inside and saw this:


Two days later, there was a second egg. Each was a little larger than a Tic Tac mint.

By now, we named the momma Ethyl. I don't remember exactly why, but I think it had something to do with how much energy she used flying around and her need to refuel constantly.

By day she sat on the eggs, turning them with her feet and leaving when she needed to eat. The nest was illuminated by our porch light at night and I noticed something I didn't expect--she left the nest unoccupied at night. It seemed like the eggs would get too cold unattended, but strangely enough, worrying didn't bring her back. We had to trust her instincts.

About a week into the egg watch, I peeked in the nest and only saw one egg. I searched the ground for bits of broken shell, but didn't see anything out of the ordinary. We never figured out what happened. The potential yield was reduced by 50%.

So it went like this day after day--I looked at Ethyl through the window in the morning and checked to see if everything looked normal. When I got home from work, I'd wait until she left to feed and take a peek in the nest. A couple of times she didn't leave the area and chased me off when I got close. I started to think that my curiosity would cause her to abandon her little one, so didn't look in as often.

3 weeks into egg-watch, I thought we were probably close to the big event so I waited for what seemed like forever for Ethyl to leave. I rushed out the door but when I looked in the nest, I couldn't figure out what I was looking at. There was broken shell, a blob of black goo, and yellow & pink bits. My first thought was that some invader came in and destroyed the egg, but then I noticed the goo was moving--it was the baby!

The little guy looked more like an alien than a bird, but given he just busted out of a Tic Tac, how was he supposed to look? In a few days, he was much much bigger than the egg he hatched from.

Anna's Hummingbird hatchling
April 25, 2015

He grew quickly and before long, Junior looked like a real hummingbird. lol. There was drama one day when neither of us had seen Ethyl for a day. I thought something happened to her, so I contacted my birding friend Spinnity. I was in a tizzy. She contacted resources on her side and found a nearby wildlife rescue where I could take Junior in the morning. As I was texting Spinnity, I heard a hummer chirping nearby. She landed on the nest and I stopped breathing in anticipation. Junior held his beak open, ready to be fed. Then the bird flew away. I was crushed! I stayed on watch, determined not to leave until I witnessed a feeding. Minutes later, Ethyl came back, fed Junior, and left in a blur. Crisis averted.

Here's Junior's weekly progress:

Junior (Anna's Hummingbird)
May 3, 2015

Junior with pin feathers
May 9, 2015

Junior looks ready to go
May 15, 2015

May 19 was a happy and sad day. It was the day that Junior fledged and left the nest. It was amazing to watch a new life begin. The nest has been empty ever since.

Empty nest

The hummingbirds have been flitting around the front and backyard as usual, but I can't tell which ones (if any) might be Ethyl or Junior. On May 27, a hummingbird flew up against a window in the back of the house. He hit hard and then landed in the nearby apricot tree to gather his wits. He flew away about 20 minutes later.


I wonder if it was Junior? The bird might be a juvenile, the beak looks a bit short. And perhaps it was due to inexperience that the bird flew into the window? Well, if it was you Junior, take care and watch out for glass and other dangers in the real world.

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  • oh thank you so much for sharing, your story and pix are great!!!

    By Blogger Mo, at 5/31/2015 10:07 AM  

  • That's so exciting! I have a couple of hummingbird feeders that the Annas visit year round, and I keep hoping they will build a nest in my yard. Maybe next year!

    By Blogger Jardee Worcester, at 5/31/2015 1:14 PM  

  • How special to witness this! Thank you for sharing the pictures and story.

    By Blogger Lori, at 6/01/2015 3:01 AM  

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