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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hummingbird Chicks

Still at Saxe Point Park where I'd gone to photograph the Bald Eagles, I came across this charming pair sitting perfectly still in their little nest. Their mother had buzzed me earlier but I couldn't see her well enough to identify her and she was much too busy for me to ever get her in focus. However, I'm guessing that these chicks are Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anna), since they are the only hummingbirds that are likely to be here at this time of year. Hummingbirds are extraordinary little creatures and I recommend the Wikipedia article on them if you want to find out more. Here's a few facts: They must consume their body weight every day. Otherwise they die or go into a kind of hibernation called "torpor." They reject any flowers that have less than 10% sugar in their nectar seeing as lower percentages are not capable of supporting the rapid metabolism of these tiny birds. Their hearts may beat as much as 1260 beats per minute. Part of their mating display consists of dives from about 98 feet (30 meters) to reach speeds over 50 miles per hour (80 kph). They are the only birds that can fly backwards. Those spiderwebs you can see on the nest in the photo have been collected by the mother bird and are used to construct the nest. Because the spider silk is elastic, the nest can stretch as the chicks get larger. There's more, so go read the article.

12 comments:

Dean Lewis said...

That is a great shot.
Those little gaffers are really stuffed in there.
Remarkable about the spider-web borrowing for the nest-building.
Nice 'bokeh'. lol

Irina said...

I would like to have such eye as yours. To see these beauties. And to make perfect image.

JoJo said...

I love hummingbirds! You were so lucky to capture the chicks in their nest!

Kim said...

Oh my, they are so lovely. That is fascinating about the nest. This is among your most charming posts, and your shot is worthy of publication in a nature journal or NG. They are certainly photogenic, sweet tiny hummers.
-Kim

lizziviggi said...

What a wonderful moment you've captured here! I don't think I will ever be so lucky as to get a perfect shot like this. Hummingbirds are not only photogenic, they're also fascinating creatures.

Benjamin Madison said...

Thank you all for your very kind remarks. I must also thank the regular users of the park, many of whom have pointed out this nest to me. It's a delight to find so many people enjoying watching these quiet little creatures grow up.

Chuck Pefley said...

I'm surprised at how large they appear in your photo. I'm curious about their scale, as hummingbirds I'm familiar with seem so very tiny. Regardless, (and of course you used a tele) this is a wonderful portrait of those small siblings.

Jabba said...

I too love these birds, I haven't seen one forever! Thanks for sharing - as always.

Benjamin Madison said...

Thanks Jabba and Chuck - this photo is about twice life size. Only a few days later one of these chicks was gone from the nest and the other was poised on the brink, so they must have been nearly full grown.

Canarybird said...

What an excellent photo Benjamin! I've never seen hummingbird babies in the nest. You were so lucky to have been directed there and to have captured such a beautiful shot.

Sarah said...

Nice facts! Did you know hummingbirds can also make a chirping noise with their tail feathers? Pictures like this make me want to get more hummingbird feeders for my backyard so I finally get some nests. Have you heard anything about those new Perky-Pet Top Fill hummingbird feeders? I'm trying to make an informed purchase. They look really easy to fill!

Benjamin Madison said...

Hi Sarah, thanks for your comment. Sorry I can't help you with any info about hummingbird feeders since I don't know anything about them.