A hummingbird-sized home

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The immature oak acorn in this photo indicates the size of this hummingbird nest. The limb on which the nest is attached is about 3/4 of an inch in diameter. The nest itself is about the size of a green walnut with the hull still on.

Building a nest will take a female hummingbird about one week. The nest will usually be placed strategically at the far end of a limb that reaches out to nowhere. The nest will sit upright on the top side of the limb. Often this supporting limb will extend out over a body of water, but it doesn't necessarily have to. Hummingbirds seem instinctively to know that predators like squirrels and snakes are less apt to travel such limbs, and predatory birds are less apt to light there.

A hummingbird will use a variety of soft materials for its nest. The fluff of dandelion seeds, soft pieces of moss, small animal hairs and hairs from the stems of plants are some of the delicate stuff of hummingbird nests. But the most important ingredient of the nest is spider webs. Spider webs are used to tie the nest securely to the limb as well as also gluing everything else together.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at The Painted Wren Art Gallery, 5H N. Main St.

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