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Rufous Hummingbirds' Marvelous Nest

The secret is... spider webs!

The nest-building skills of the female Rufous Hummingbird are amazing. She first weaves a cup of soft, fluffy plant material, then envelops it with moss and binds it with strands of spider web. The final touch: a layer of lichen flakes to provide perfect camouflage. A favorite nest site is the fork of a downward-drooping twig, perhaps low in a shrub or up higher in an old conifer.

Be sure to watch the slideshow of a Rufous Hummingbird nesting season.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Rufous Hummingbirds’ Marvelous Nest

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote!
 [Male Rufous Hummingbird display dive sounds]
 If you’re lucky, and you live West of the Rockies, you’ve seen a courting male Rufous Hummingbird, displaying like a crimson comet. The male mates with any female that graces his well-defended territory of blooming shrubs.
[Male Rufous Hummingbird display dive sounds]
The duties of nesting fall entirely to the female.
Her nest-building is a marvel: She first weaves a cup of soft, fluffy plant material. The downy cup, she layers over with moss bound with adhesive strands of spider web. The final touch: layering the outer surface with lichen flakes to provide perfect camouflage. Smaller than a walnut half, the nest soon harbors two eggs the size of shelled peanuts. A favorite nest site is the fork of a downward-drooping twig, perhaps low in a shrub or up higher in an old conifer.
[Sounds of softer female wing hum]
 The female feeds the two nestlings vast quantities of tiny insects as well as some nectar. We think of hummingbirds as nectar-feeders, but they also excel in hawking insects, gleaning aphids from leaves, and pilfering insects from spider webs, while dining on spider eggs and young spiders, too. Mm.m.m….
You can take a peek at her nest on birdnote.org. I’m Michael Stein.
 [Hummingbird wing hum]
###
Call of the Rufous Hummingbird provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Display dive sounds with call [109124] recorded by G.A. Keller.  Chatter recorded by W.W.H. Gunn.  For female wing sound we used Anna’s Hummingbird [6121] recorded by A.A. Allen.
Ambient recorded by C. Peterson at French Road June Marantz III Track 182
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org     May 2017    Narrator:  Michael Stein
ID# 052407RUHU1    RUHU-07b

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