After the last big storm with high winds, I found a small odd-shaped piece of a branch in the yard. As I stooped to pick it up, I found it wasn’t a branch at all, but a tiny nest. Made of pieces of tree bark and dandelion down, this hummingbird nest was held together with spider silk or pine resin. Tiny lichens stuck to the outside provide perfect camouflage for the nest, which hummingbirds build directly on top of a branch.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds were called “flower kissers” by Native Americans and are considered good luck when seen. They arrive in Ohio in early April. Some continue on up to Canada but many stay in Ohio and breed here. They are famous for their expert flying ability, being able to hold perfectly still in the air, fly forwards, backwards, up, and down with tight precision.
Hummingbirds have a high metabolism and must eat all day to survive. They need to eat every 15 minutes, consuming half of their body weight in bugs and nectar a day. They are a territorial and anti-social species, as you will see if you put up a feeder and watch the aerial fights and chases that occur throughout the day. Aside from putting up a feeder, consider planting native wildflowers in your yard to give a variety of nectar sources for hummingbirds. Popular flowers to plant include:
As the saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Same goes for nests. A hummingbird nest is mighty small, but the bird that built it is a mighty, fascinating bird indeed!