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Hibiscus & Baby Hummingbirds

On January 31, our friend, fellow hibiscus lover and hibiscus garden advisor, Darren Eminian, discovered a hummingbird nest hidden inside his 'Valentine's Day' hibiscus plant in Hollywood, California, right in the middle of the sprawling Los Angeles metropolis. Darren had been taking so many pictures of his hummingbirds that they were quite tolerant of him and his camera. So he began a photo documentary of the tiny hummmingbird nest. Watch the story unfold!



Darren's 'Valentine's Day' Hibiscus ~ Home for a Hummingbird Family!


Hummingbird Nest in Exotic Hibiscus 'Valentine's Day'

Here is the tiny hummingbird nest, much smaller than a hibiscus leaf, securely fastened to a branch with bits of fur, spider silk, feathers, plant down, and plant fibers. For a tiny hummingbird, it is really quite an engineering feat. The nest is deep under a hibiscus branch, sheltered from wind, rain, and sun by the many, huge hibiscus leaves surrounding it. The mama bird puts little twigs around the outside of the nest to camouflage it deep in the shade of the hibiscus bush.

Here is the mama bird, who built the nest by herself. Unlike many other bird species, hummingbird males don't hang around to help with building a nest, incubating eggs, or caring for the young. All of this is up to the female bird alone, and it is a lot of work for one tiny little hummingbird.



The Hummingbird Eggs are Only About 1/2" (1cm) Long

Mama Hummingbird Sitting on Her Eggs

The two miniature hummingbird eggs don't even begin to fill the tiny nest that is big enough to hold only a single golf ball. Neither do the tiny baby birds that hatched out of the eggs two weeks later on February 13. It's hard to tell what you're seeing, but if you look closely, you can see the tiny black naked bodies, the tinier orange beaks, and the bits of eggshell underneath the newborn babies who are sound asleep. According to Darren, mama hummingbird has to wake the chicks up to feed them regurgitated insects and nectar every 20 minutes. When they're not eating, the little chicks are fast asleep. By day 3, they start to wake up themselves and ask for food.



Just-Hatched Hummingbird Chicks ~ Day 1

Asking for Food on Day 3

Growing Like Crazy ~ Day 9

Beaks Always up, Ready for Food ~ Day 12

By day 9, the hummingbird chicks are plump and completely fill the nest, forcing it to expand to hold them. The spider silk that hummingbird nests are made of is very elastic and allows the nest to stretch to hold the rapidly growing chicks. By day 12, the nest is growing vertically as well as horizontally, and the babies beaks are always up, ready for more food. More and more feathers now cover their bodies, and soon their eyes will open.



Almost Ready to Fly ~ Day 19

Now the chicks are almost grown! They are fully feathered, with real flying feathers, alert, and so big they are tearing open the side of the nest. The picture below is their last picture in their nest.


Last Day in the Nest ~ Day 20

First Flight ~ One Chick Landed on Darren's Porch

First Flight ~ The Other Chick Landed on a Hibiscus Leaf

On day 21, March 6 the hummingbird chicks took their first flight. As you can see below, they landed safe and sound, one on Darren's porch and the other on a hibiscus leaf. They are now fully grown adults, ready to be independent. It's sad to say good-bye to them, but as Darren says, maybe it's really, "Hello!"


To see more of Darren's pictures of the hummingbird chicks, go to the Hibiscus Stories section of our HVH Forum.