The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Nesting Preferences

These birds thrive mostly in the eastern United States. Their breeding range covers eastern to Midwestern North America, from southern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. In winter, though, they can be found mostly in Mexico, Central America and on the Caribbean islands.

In spring, the male hummingbirds return to north before the females and upon arrival, establish their territories right away. The females, however, chooses the nest site. And similar to other small birds, the females do the construction of their small nest made from leafy materials and scales bounded by silk from spider webs or tent, caterpillar nests and lichens as decorations on the exterior. Bird experts say the skillful female uses a variety of materials including fluff from catkins and cattails in building her nest that appears like a natural knob on a shrub or branch of a tree. The nest is usually situated on downward sloping tree branches. Once the nest is finished, the female can then engage in courtship with a male hummingbird.

The hummingbird’s minute nest is her refuge when she lays her eggs. A female normally lays two white, bean-sized eggs. She builds the nest all by herself preferably on the main branch of a leafy tree or shrub about three to 10 meters high above the ground. Using her bill, the female cements her materials together and fastens the nest securely to the branch with sticky spider silk. Using her body, she molds the inner part of the cup and draws loose ends and smoothes all the materials with her bill.

The female protects her eggs vigorously from predators and bad weather. She spends a long time incubating them and shielding them from rain and the sun using green leaves which she has placed over her nest. She leaves her nest briefly to eat making carefully choosing her routes.

The incubation of the eggs takes about 11 to 14 days. Upon hatching, the young hummingbirds are tiny and naked, with short bills and eyes closed. After five days, their eyes will open and their feathers will begin to show. After a short time, the nestlings can already utter peeps.

The female also keeps her young warm and feeds them with regurgitated food from her bill. She will also pick up the droppings and bring them away from the nest. At other times, the female may trim the nest branch filled with droppings placed in a neat row. After reaching two weeks to a month of age, the young birds depart from their nest although their mother will continue to feed them for several weeks.


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