April 25, 2009 | The baby hummers have left the nest.
It was just three weeks ago today that I first noticed mama hummingbird feeding babies in the nest. By yesterday, the babies had both left home. (The first flew on Thursday, the second on Friday.)
Based on a sample of two, I'm prepared to make sweeping generalizations. On their last day in the nest, both of the babies went through the same preening and plucking to get rid of any remaining baby fluff and make sure every feather was perfectly in place and fully aerodynamic. Both did most of their pre-flight warm-ups right after feeding; perhaps that's when they were most energized, perhaps they wanted to follow mama.
When Rupert left on Thursday, I was pre-occupied fixing my computer and taking care of business, so I didn't get to see him actually make the first flight.
On Friday, I was determined to be an eye-witness, one way or another. As soon as it was light out, I set the Veo webcam to Record, and over the course of the day recorded six gigabytes of video (6!). I also spent much of the day watching out the window! Although Minnie did all the same primping and preening that Rupert had done the day before, she also spent a fair amount of time just sitting in the nest. Maybe she just wanted to luxuriate in having the nest all to herself for once! At one point Rupert came back for a fly-by of the nest but didn't stop in for a visit.
Late in the day, mama came back for another feeding, so I grabbed my camera and climbed on my step stool just inside the patio door, a position from which I've been able to get pretty good hand-held video by bracing the camera against the door jamb. I had just turned the camera on and had not yet gotten fully into position when mama saw me. She broke off feeding and came over to look me in the eye before darting off. Was this "Thanks for the use of your patio" or "Is nothing private any more"? Minnie peered around, looking for mama, then fluttered her wings and took off. She hovered for maybe 2 seconds, then darted away.
It was a truly amazing thing to see. It left me breathless and in awe.
The video shows the last feeding in the nest followed by the baby hummer taking flight. The first part of the video was captured by the Veo webcam, the second part by my hand-held camera. It ends with a shot of the now-empty nest.
Last updated on Jul 18, 2016