Hummingbirds, Jewels of Nature



“Jewels of Nature”

©Monique F. Rea 2010


These jewels of nature wear shimmering green coats.  Allen’s hummingbirds are accented with warm golden sienna brown. The adult male wears an iridescent copper collar under

his beak and a copper crown.   An adult male Anna’s displays a garnet throat and crown. The Costa’s adult male sports a purple collar that extends out like whiskers. The female of these

species keeps her color limited to green with buff underside and maybe a dot of color below her beak. One hummingbird requires nectar from 400 to 1000 flowers each day.  Their size

does not diminish their power and aerodynamic skills.  Hummingbirds are extreme acrobats in the air. The male displays his brilliant colors by the light refracting from microscopic

bubbles in his feathers to attract the females. Once he has accomplished what he set out to do, the work then begins with only the adult female who is a nest builder extraordinaire and the

sole architect. Each female uses her architectural creativity incorporating nature’s flora into her design.  A walnut size nest is carefully shaped to hold precious cargo. Her nest is

deceivingly delicate made of plant fibers and leaf matter.  She sometimes lines it with animal fur or the velvety coating from under a Sycamore leaf.  The outer surface is camouflaged

with bits of leaves or lichen, even paint chips or Astroturf, woven together with spider’s silk threads that hold firm the shape yet allows expansion when needed. Her nest is anchored

with spider’s silk to the branches of a formidable rose bush, a Ficus tree, wind chime or JuniperShe carries many small pieces of downy morsels in her beak to line the nest and

then stomps and presses them down with her determined tiny feet to prepare for the arrival of two white small bean size eggs.  They are laid two days apart. If fortunate to watch these

amazing architects, you are captured by their beauty and determination. The day following her progeny pearl’s hatching is the beginning of her first 21 days of intense food gathering

and sheltering from the elements. She alone collects sweet nectar from the flowers and catches small insects making a tasty meal for her young as well as for herself. We are touched by

the mother’s attentiveness and amazed hosmall her babies are. They look like tiny black raisins. At two weeks they have their own coat of feathers and their beaks begin to poke

out of the nest.  The third week there is no more room for mama. She’ll sit on a branch close by, staying alert and continues her feeding schedule. The chicks begin rapid wing flutters while

gripping the edge of their nest. It will not be long before the first born will leave.  A few days after the second chick ventures away from the nest. They have made their first step to

maturity but will need mama to feed them for another week or two. They chirp repeatedly a call  so she can find and feed them. The juveniles will pick their own territory and will

establish their independence. Not until after their first molt and the following year will they exhibit their adult plumage.  In time they will zoom through the air, will hover while sipping

the nectar from the flowers and catch unsuspecting bugs. The cycle of a hummingbird’s  life expands with the new generation.  

These “Jewels of Nature” will charm your garden and color the landscape around you.


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