Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Checking on Eve's Hummer Nestlings

Last week I went back to the Penasquitos/Lopez Canyon trail to check on Eve's hummingbird nest. It was 14 days after hatching and things looked pretty normal as far as I could tell.

Day 14.  As I approach the nest, I find Mom hummer active and flying circles around the nest keeping a close eye on her two nestlings.
She looks above to make sure the nestlings are safe.

What appears to be a young fledgling Song Sparrow comes too close and she immediately chases it away.

Mom perches on a nearby branch for preening.

Back to brooding.

She appears quite fidgety, moving all around the nest edge before finally settling in to brood.

Moves again. Now we get a look at one of the nestlings.
Mom flies off and we see that there are two nestlings. We can see that mom is back approaching the nest from behind.
She's back and starts a feeding.

Look how she has positioned herself and has wrapped her wing around the branch coming out of the nest to support herself as she feeds.


Another close-up shot of the feeding.
The youngster is getting a nice long feeding.

Suddenly, mom  flies up and around the nest as though she is hawking insects around the nest. There are lots of gnats and mosquitoes around this morning. I wonder how vulnerable these nestlings are to biting insects such as mosquitoes.

The nestlings are covered in pinfeathers and I notice there appears to be a blood spot right near the nostril of the one on the right. I do worry about West Nile virus. Even though it is very hot today, I wonder if the mom keeps brooding to keep the biting insects off the nestlings.

Here comes mom to brood the nestlings again. Keeping them safe from biting insects? The temp is about 86F but feels like 90F due to humidity.
She lands at the rim of the nest bowl and the nestlings tuck under her feathers.

This is the time of the day when the sun is just right and shines directly on the nest. Mom could be protection against too much sunlight on the nestlings. Some birders call this style of shading the nestlings from the hot sun a "mombrella".

Close-up of mom brooding. Notice the black round spots on the rim of the nest and on the nearby leaf. They are poop from the nestlings.

One of the nestlings appeared to pop out and maybe cough up something. Do hummingbird nestlings expel pellets?

Mom takes off again and the nestlings change positions. Not wanting to upset mom by being there too long, I say good-bye to the cuties and leave them to her care. I will be back to check on them again. I have read that hummingbirds fledge in approximately 20 to 21 days after hatching. Hope to be here to see the wonderful event. Hope they stay safe.
August  9th 2017. Today would be approximately Day 20 from hatching.
I just got through editing some photos I took today at the nest site. The nest was empty and I realized that I was too late! The nestlings had already fledged. 
I looked around hoping to see the fledglings nearby. I saw movement near the nest and was delighted to see two Hummingbirds perched on a nearby branch. Here is a shot of the first one. 

Its beak looks like it may have pollen and some spider webbing.
Few more shots of the hummer with pollen on its beak.

Another one is perched on the same willow tree only a few feet away. This one has no pollen on its beak.

He looks up and flutters after some insects. Soon both are gone and I did not see them return after this sighting.  I'm not 100 percent sure if these two were Eve's Hummers that  fledged but it sure seemed like it since they were only about 10 ft away from the nest. Wishing them a safe and happy life and a nice ending to Eve's hummer's nest adventure.

Have a wonderful day everyone!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Eve's Hummer Nest, Part 2

It's Thursday the 20th of July and I have just finished most of the chores so I'm eager to take a drive to Sorrento Valley/Penasquitos Valley to check on the Black-chinned Hummingbird's nest. It's been about a week now since I saw Eve's hummer nest and I wondered if the eggs had hatched.

The temperature is rising by the minute. It is about 80 degrees but feels hotter because of the humidity. Grateful that the nest is in the shade, I walk the short distance from the Lopez Canyon parking lot to check on the nest. Nothing is taken for granted in nature. Just because the nest was occupied last week doesn't mean that the hummingbird would still be on the nest. When I reached the nest site, I was delighted to spot her right where I'd left her!

The female hummer flies to a nearby spider web. She is collecting spider threads with her beak. She swings her head back and forth as you would if you were winding yarn.

More spider web collecting.

The female flies back to the nest with spider web stuck to her breast and beak.

She sticks her spider thread covered chest against the nest where it adheres nicely to the nest rim.

Now she secures the spider thread that was on her beak to the outside of the nest wall. All will work like spandex. As her nestlings grow the walls will stretch out to accommodate their growth.

Adding some final touches. She appears to really be focused on securing the nest side.

She works with a sense of urgency.

I notice she is sitting quite high in the nest. Wow, I bet the eggs are piping! I watched for a few hours but she sat on the nest incubating only.  She would fly off to feed herself and stretch her wings but I did not see her in the act of feeding a hatchling today. I will be back tomorrow to see if there is any change at this nest.
For now, I walk east towards Lopez Canyon. Soon, I come to a place in the trail that has a cluster of Evening Primrose in bloom. To my surprise, a beautiful male Allen's Hummingbird comes to feed on the big yellow flowers.

The hummingbird approaches the primrose flower from the side and pierces the petal of the flower towards the base to reach the nectar as shown in this close-up.

It's way too hot now and most of the birds are hiding in the shade. Time to head for home. One last look at the little Black-chinned Hummingbird incubating her eggs. I will be back tomorrow to see if there are nestlings at this nest!

Today, Friday, July 21st. 2017. Arriving in Sorrento Valley at the Penasquito trailheads about 11:00am, I quickly walk to the nest to check on the little hummer. She is sitting quietly in her nest. Eggs usually hatch between 16 to 18 days. Hoping today is the day that we see some hatchlings!

As I observe the hummer sitting on her nest, I notice some movement nearby. It appears to be a newly fledged Song Sparrow but I'm not sure.

This might be its parent. I believe it is a Song Sparrow but with extreme molting.

Here is a shot of the California Sycamore tree showing the fuzz on the underside of the leaves. The Black-chinned Hummingbird are known for using the fuzz in nest building.

The female Black-chinned hummer had left the nest for a few minutes but soon returned. This time, she did not settle into the nest as she did yesterday! Her back was towards me but I could tell that she was perched on the rim of the nest and starting a feeding. Woo Hoo!! We have hatchlings!!

I quickly move about six feet to my right to get a better angle but I do not see the nestlings. All I can see from this angle is her beak going into the middle of the nest and her movement and action tells me she is in the process of feeding her hatchling!
I keep shooting and waiting to see the little beaks. They must be super new and tiny. I see the motion of the mom feeding something at the bottom of the nest but no visual yet.

She settles very gently into the nest to brood. Baby hummers are born with no feathers, dark skin and with their eyes closed. They cannot regulate their body temperature and need their mom to keep them warm.

Wow, she is being so very careful as she settles into the nest.

As I watch the hummer brooding at the nest, I spot an Orange-crowned Warbler looking for insects only about 5 ft away from the hummer's nest. This is the first female hummer that I have observed that made no warning clicks when other birds came around her nest. She just sat there very still and quiet.

Lots of insects to eat.

Found a good meal.

One last shot of the Orange-crowned Warbler.

What appears to be a very young Hummingbird lands about 10 ft away from the nest site. Could this be a Black-chinned Hummer too?

Youngsters are hard to ID but I wondered if this little hummer could be from her first clutch.

Even a Black Phoebe lands nearby but not a peep from mom Hummer at her nest.

She had been gone a few minutes but is now back and I notice that she has her back to me again as she begins another feeding.

She is feeding her hatchling. I need to get a better look so I quickly scoot six feet to my left.

Wow, I finally got a shot of the hatchling. There it is!  Mom hummer is feeding it. The hatchling is so small even the beak looks pale yellow and almost transparent.

She feeds the hatchling by placing her beak into the mouth and down into the throat to the stomach of the newborn and she regurgitates nectar and predigested tiny insects. Nature's perfect feeding tube. The food is an insect nectar smoothie. The feeding is very short because these babies are so very young and tiny. She will feed the hatchlings approximately every 20 minutes.

Bingo, I finally get a shot of the hatchling stretching its neck as it is being fed. What a precious moment.They have a very strong neck and even though their eyes are closed, they know when to open their beaks and beg for food.  They can feel  the air movement of mom hummer's wings when she comes to the nest.

Closer look at the hatchling being fed.

She is now feeding the second hatchling but it doesn't show itself. This feeding is very quick.

Mom hummer stops and gets ready to regurgitate again. See how her neck gets thick. I will be checking on the hatchlings again soon. It's time for me to start for home. I am feeling so happy and grateful to see this magical moment at Eve's hummer nest.
Have a super weekend everyone!