Wednesday, June 1, 2016

They Grow Up So Fast!

Our personal gardens can be a safe haven for many nesting birds. Just recently at El Presidio, I have been fortunate enough to document a very special hummingbird nest in one of our trees. It took me years to develop this garden and only now am seeing the greater benefits of my work.

We added a water feature several years ago and it has attracted many interesting birds into our shady Mexican courtyard. I also have feeders up near my observation window which allows me to document the birds visiting our bird baths, trees and cactus.

In March, I saw a male Broad-billed Hummingbird on the property catching bugs above our fountain.  It didn't take long before I noticed a female joining him.  This was a first for this species since we've owned our home.

I heard the rattle one day leaving my bedroom door and saw the female fly by me.  My eyes followed her back to a nest right above my cactus garden.  About two weeks passed as she sat on the nest everyday. Then she was gone.  I got nervous and thought, Oh no!  The nest failed! It's hard not to take personally because a lot of sweat and blood went into creating the gardens. There is ownership in that kind of work. But I noticed something different.  There were little black fecal sacs around the edge of the nest.

A few days later, I saw two swords sticking out of the nest.

They became larger.  And Mom guarded their nest.

All around our property, she collected bugs and nectar to feed not only herself but her offspring.

They continued to grow.  I kept asking myself, "Does Mom do ALL the work? Where is Dad?"  I kept observing and eventually had my questions answered. The babies grew.

Eventually one sat in the nest.  The other.....

Hopped out and flew to the nearby tree and fence.  I only saw the little one once.  I was so nervous for the baby.  The mother kept protecting the nest by chasing off birds like House Sparrows, White-winged Doves and Verdins. 

Then I saw the father return and feed from the Orange Jubilee that grows in my garden.  While Mother kept the little ones safe, the Father monitored a larger area protecting his family.  A male CANNOT take care of the little ones.  His bright colors would lead predators straight to the nest.  That's why the females are a duller color in most of the bird species.  Nature knows best:)

It's hard not to worry about the little ones.  It's very human of me.  The birder knows best, but it's the human part of me that FEELS and wants to PROTECT them.  The only thing I can do is make sure the hummingbird feeders are changed out with fresh nectar.  Another recommendation by Sheri Williamson is to add fruit to the nearby feeders to increase the bug activity.  Mom would often drink from the feeders and capture bugs which would then be fed in the form of a "slurry" to the nestlings. 

Male Broad-billed Hummingbird
Meanwhile in our oak trees, nesting Anna's hummingbirds were also busy getting ready to raise their own family. I believe now that I am going to construct a hummingbird bath and place more butterfly and hummingbird wildflowers into the garden this summer. Their nesting took place in a very short 3 week period!  That is incredible! And they are still around feeding at my feeders:)

Many moons ago, when we first bought our home and before the time of birds, I remembered seeing a blue and white hummingbird.  The dolphin with wings.  It was distinct.  I remember it well because it would always hover right in front of my face while I was working out in the garden. Was it a rare(for Tucson) Violet-crowned Hummingbird?

Straight out of my garden!  What an amazing flower show!
Today the pool has been replaced with our fountain.  El Presidio is once again a safe haven for ALL hummingbirds. By adding a water feature, we've added an attraction for visiting and neighboring birds. Our yards can be some of the best places to bird. No gas needed:)  Until next time.....


  1. Wow, great pictures! The broad-billed hummers in our yard love the orange jubilee flowers too. :)

    1. Thanks for posting about the nest etc. I had wondered if they'd reuse it and I'm glad there is a chance. Hopefully, the two little hummers are doing well.

  2. I love that your hard garden work is paying off so well. Such a treat to watch this hummer family grow and fledge. Be proud.

  3. Lovely to have followed the birds nesting and then producing their young and all that hard work to trying to reais them safely You have documented it very well.

  4. Fabulous photos! The babies are so cute. I love the cactus blooms too.

  5. What a wonderful post and superb photos. Found it all so interesting following the stages - so pleased you are getting such benefits from all the hard work and planning you put into the garden :) I wish the youngsters well :)


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