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!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Eve's Hummer Nest

I'm still busy working on re-furbishing my backyard. Last month, I planted several white ginger plants and they are now just starting to bloom. The fragrance is heavenly!  As I worked on placing my newly purchased Loquat tree, Eve sends an e-mail saying that she has found what appears to be a Black-chinned Hummingbird's nest. Would I like to go check it out?  Early next morning we were driving towards the Penasquitos Canyon west trails off Sorrento Valley Blvd.

As soon as we arrived at the Penasquitos Canyon/Lopez Canyon trailhead, I immediately caught sight of a White-tailed Kite flying west. Wow, this place looked very promising already! We walked to the trail entrance heading east. Soon, Eve stopped me and said there she is... Here are some photos of the female Black-chinned Hummingbird on her nest.

Black-chinned Hummingbird, Archilochus alexandri   measures 3.75 inches long with a wingspan of 4.75 inches.
 She flies off.

Eve said that the female Black-chinned Hummingbird loves the fuzzy underside of the leaves of the California Sycamore tree for making her nest.

Here, the female flies out of the nest and lands on a near-by twig. This really shows her long wing. Her tail just barely sticks out past her wing-tips.

Back to her nest.

The photos are quite grainy because the nest is in a very dark shady area.

The throat area shows no red central patch.

Her beak is longer than an Anna's Hummingbird.

This shot also shows how long her wings are.
 The female flies out and soon returns to a twig to preen and stretch.

Back to her nesting duty.

She hesitates a moment to make sure she is not in danger from the humans watching her.

Back to her nest to incubate her precious eggs.

She settles down and goes back to incubating her eggs. We will have to come back to check on this sweet bird. Hope she stays safe. Time to hike towards Lopez Canyon trails.

Few flowers around the trail. 

There were lots of Acorn Woodpeckers in this area. Here is a shot of an old snag that is used to store the acorns.

There were many to see and many more that we heard as we walked east on the trail.

A Bushtit peeks out from the shade.

Looking out to the south of us we spot a couple of House Finch fledglings begging for food.

"More food please "!

Ash-throated Flycatcher flies after a insect.

He appears to be very tolerant of us walking by the trail.

One more shot of this cutie.

We had spotted quite a few of these Flycatchers on the Lopez Canyon trail.

These two look quite young.

They appeared to be having fun flying from branch to branch.

This one could have been one of the parents on a near-by branch.

There were lots of Lesser Gold Finches too.

This Black-headed Grosbeak appears to be a youngster too.

Maybe a young male by the looks of his white coloring on the underside of his tail.
 Last look.

We heard several Pacific-slope Flycatcher but I only got one quick shot before it disappeared into the thick willows.

We approached a large open area with large trees and snags. On one dead branch, I spotted a beautiful Red tailed Hawk. It soon flew off.

She soars over us and heads west following the ridge of the canyon.

What a beautiful sight. 
Few minutes later, Eve motioned to look up and said there's the Red Tailed Hawk. I focused my camera wondering what she was carrying.

Oh my goodness, it is a snake!

A closer look shows that the snake is a California King snake.

I get a few more shots as he flies past.

Another close-up
Last shot... It's getting hot and we are ready to head for home. It's been a fantastic birding day spotting many birds.  To see this Red-tailed Hawk fly over with a snake really made my day!
Have a fun weekend everyone and stay cool!