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Hummingbirds Growing up in My Garden

baby-hummingbirds-in-my-garden

Hummingbirds nesting in our garden

This is the story of two baby hummingbirds growing up in my garden. The discovery came as an unexpected surprise which just blew me away. I stumbled upon a mossy wad of lichen and cotton fluffs with spiderweb all over it on one of my geranium hanging plants. It was well camouflaged and looked like a knot on one of the branches. This is why it went unnoticed during my weekly deadheading sessions in the garden. Nothing prepared me for what I was about to see after I climbed on a bench to take a closer look. My jaws dropped when I saw two jelly-bean sized eggs in the tiniest nest I have ever seen. I ran into the house, grabbed my camera and began to chronicle the day-to-day development of the baby hummers from egghood to flight.

Photo Credit: jlshernandez - All Rights Reserved.

A very special place to grow up - Location, location, location

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This was the geranium hanging plant where the mother hummingbird chose to build its nest. There was nothing special about it except its close proximity to the hummingbird feeder. As you can see, the nest was well camouflaged amongst the flowers, green leaves and branches. It was sheltered by a trellis from direct sunlight, rain and heavy wind. But most of all, it was hidden away from the larger birds in our garden who may snatch the eggs from the nest.

The First Sighting - There it is. Can you see it? - The spiderweb was a dead giveaway

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This was the close-up view of the hummingbird's nest from where I was standing on the deck while deadheading the hanging plants. The nest could easily have been mistaken for a wad of lichen or moss. The spiderweb wrapped around the leaves was used to glue the nest together. The small nest blended very well with the geranium leaves and was easy to miss. Also difficult to get at by non-hovering predators and hidden away from humans. Well, almost.

The Discovery of two jelly bean-sized eggs - April 26

The Discovery of two jelly bean-sized eggs - April 26

The Discovery of two jelly bean-sized eggs - April 26

What do we have here? - May 9 day 1 - One little hummer

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Photo Credit: jennysh_who

This hummingbird's nest was very well engineered by the enterprising mother. It was carefully fashioned out of moss, lichen, tiny leaves, plant hairs, and glued together with the silk threads of the spider web. The nest was built on top of a "Y" branch of the trailing geranium plant and was about the size of half of a walnut. It was just the perfect accommodation for the two jelly bean-sized hummingbird eggs.

One hatched egg - May 9 day 1 - Another one to go

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This photo was taken to show the size of the tiny hummingbird's nest relative to my hand. The tiny nest was about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide and so expertly constructed by the mother hummingbird. The inside looked like it was lined with white fleece or cotton fluffs to keep the baby chicks warm and cozy.

And then there were two - May 11 Day 3 - A new roommate

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The almost perfectly rounded interior of the nest was molded from the mother hummingbird's wing, rump and feet. The bottom of the nest and the side facing the wind were thicker than the top. The mother hummingbird disposed of the broken egg shells as soon as both eggs were hatched.

Kudos to a great housekeeper.

Growing in leaps and bounds - May 12 Day 4 - One smaller than the other

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Photo Credit: jennysh_who

The baby chicks seemed to double in size everyday. Their tiny fuzzy feathers help regulate their own body heat and keep them warm as their mother leaves the nest and go foraging for bugs and nectar to feed them.

May 12 Day 4 - Cannot see but can hear

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Photo Credit: jennysh_who

Even with their eyes still closed, the baby hummingbirds could feel the wind from the wings of their mother and lift their heads up and open their hungry mouths for feeding. At 4 days old, the two hummers have a darker but still stubby orange beak and dark bodies.

May 14 Day 6 - One orange beak

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Photo Credit: jennysh_who

At six days old, the hummingbird chicks have developed pin feathers which will eventually become real feathers.

May 15 Day 7 - How they have grown in one day

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The baby hummingbirds look like little porcupines with pin feathers growing on their backs.

Getting Vocal - May 17 Day 9 - Hummingbird babies are always hungry

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Photo Credit: jennysh_who

Of the two hummingbird nestlings, this one obviously knows how to ask for food. The hummer felt my movements as I tried to position myself to take a photo and it instinctively opened its mouth thinking I am its mother.

Day 9 - Hummingbirds are born potty-trained

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I caught these two chicks chirping for their mother. It was at this point that I noticed the hummingbirds' waste (aka poop) on the leaves around the nest. Hummingbirds are born potty-trained and will raise their behinds to shoot poo over the side of the nest. This keeps the nest clean and is a real help for the busy mother who has to leave the nest to gather nectar and bugs for the babies.

It's getting crowded in here - May 20 Day 12 - There is barely room for two

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The pin feathers have grown and covered their entire bodies. The nest is now beginning to get crowded. I did not remove the yellowing leaves surrounding the nest and allowed these to wither away on their own. This will continue to serve as a camouflage for the nest against predators who may be lurking around. And indeed they were. Fortunately, hummingbirds are the only birds that can hover.

Waiting for Momma - May 23 Day 15 - Where's lunch?

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Photo Credit: jennysh_who

At 15 days old, the hummingbirds have grown real feathers and their beaks have become darker and longer. They can now spread their wings while holding on to the bottom of the nest with their feet. This is prevent them from falling out of the nest accidentally. What smart little critters.

Two Sleepyheads- May 25 Day 17 - What a difference a day makes - how they have grown

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Photo Credit: jennysh_who

The two baby hummingbirds have outgrown their small nest. Their beaks have grown darker and even longer. What a difference a day makes in the lives of the baby hummers.

Sitting back-to-back. - May 26 day 18

Two's company or two's a crowd

I caught these two hummers changing positions in the nest so both of them would fit better. The spiderweb around the nest allowed the nest to expand a little bit to accommodate the growing babies. Their beaks have grown even longer and darker.

Two's Company, two's a crowd - Day18

Two's Company, two's a crowd - Day18

Two's Company, two's a crowd - Day18

Bright-eyed and bushy tailed - Day 18

Bright-eyed and bushy tailed - Day 18

Bright-eyed and bushy tailed - Day 18

So cozy together - May 27 Day 19 - Nature's wide-eyed jewels

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This is the most precious shot of the two hummingbird babies ever. The metallic green color on their feathers seemed to change with light intensity and angle of the camera. In the late afternoon, the feathers of the hummers are more brownish in color.

Older sibling fledged - May 29 Day 21 - And then there was was one

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The older hummingbird had left the nest. It was unfortunate that I did not capture this moment of flight. Having a day job kept me from being there at the right moment. Now the lone hummer baby is contemplating on leaving soon. But is she ready?

Baby hummer longing to fly- May 30 Day 22 - Early morning

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Photo Credit: jennysh_who

At 22 days old, the baby hummer has learned how to stand and pearch perch on the nest grabbing snugly at the bottom of the nest with its feet. It would groom and preen its feathers and flap its wings as if rehearsing for the big day.

View from the back - May 30 Day 22 - Hanging on precariously on the edge of the nest

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When a baby hummingbird is getting ready to fledge or leave its nest, it perches on the edge of the nest with its back facing the wind.

May 30 Day 22 - Can you see the little hummer in its nest?

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A shot of the nest from the bottom looking up shows the cup-shaped nest with lichen glued to the sides. The little fledgling's head and beak can be seen peering out of the nest.

Little fledgling is ready to fly - May 30 Day 22 - Late afternoon

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The afternoon sun had set and the fledgling was still perched on the nest. It had spent many days of wing exercise, while holding on tightly to the nest with its feet. It was unfazed by the gusts of wind and swayed with the rhythm of the branches.

Waiting for mother - May 31 Day 23 - The last day - It is time to go

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Photo Credit: jennysh_who

This was the hummingbird's last day in the nest. It was easy to tell from its body language. The chick would perch on the edge of the nest and flap its wings even as the branches swayed in the wind. The mother hummingbird came every 15 minutes to feed the baby hummer. This went on for an hour. The baby hummingbird seemed restless and continued to flap its wings and look upwards. Then there was a big gust of wind the baby hummingbird was gone in the blink of an eye. It happened so fast that I was not able to catch the first flight with my camera.

And then there were none - May 31 - Baby hummingbirds have fledged

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This was what the empty nest looked like after the hummingbirds have flown away. It was a bittersweet sight. I miss the hummers, but at the same time I felt so fortunate to have been picked to witness one of nature's miracles.

Hummingbird's nest wilting away - July 12 - Two months later - let nature take its course

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Photo Credit: jennysh_who

The nest has dried up and shrunk in the hot summer sun. I left it undisturbed and even avoided touching it.

When the cold winter came, some of the branches and leaves of the geranium plant withered away. It was then I cut off the branch that so proudly held the tiny nest of my two baby hummingbirds. Perhaps, another mother hummingbird may find its way again in one of the hanging flower pots.

Hummingbird story set into motion and music - Days 1-9

This video chronicles the hummingbirds babies from days 1-9. Watch the hungry chicks beg for food as I click away with my camera.

Two's company, two's a crowd - Days 12-19

Watch how the two baby hummers lay on their backs in the nest to keep their long beaks from getting in the way. The older sibling soon flies away.

Baby hummer does wing exercise - Days 21-22

Watch the lone baby hummingbird raise its behind and shoot poo. It perches on the nest and flexes its wings.

Baby hummingbird leaves the nest - Last day

Watch the baby hummingbird grooms itself in preparation for its first flight. The wind beckons and helps lift this little bird into the high heavens.

Recipe for homemade hummingbird nectar

Super easy to make

I found out that boiling sugar and water together kills mold spores and retards growth of bacteria. Boiling also helps keep the nectar (sugar water) last longer in the hummingbird feeder without getting cloudy after a three days.

The ratio is 1 part sugar to 4 parts of water.

1. Mix together 1 cup sugar and 4 cups water in a pot. Boil for 2 minutes.

2. Cool completely. Pour into clean feeder.

This will fill a 30 ounce Perky hummingbird feeder.

Don't miss out on capturing those precious moments

A good camera, patience, practice, and chance can produce some of the most interesting photos you can imagine. I keep my camera on a counter near the patio door in case a songbird, a hummingbird's nest, squirrels, or other wildlife happen to show up in our yard. Timing is everything when it comes to capturing a rare moment.

Did you enjoy the hummingbird story? - Share your thought.

Paula Hite from Virginia on April 28, 2014:

This has to be one of my favorite subjects and lenses! What a wonderful gift you had that year!

I shared your lens on our G+ page today too!

https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/10593843672309975630...

Ramona from Arkansas on December 07, 2013:

WOW!!! You are one lucky person. I could only wish I had hummingbirds growing up in my back yard and they were close enough for me to watch them grow. Awesome Lens!

aleesya_aqilah on May 27, 2013:

amazing

LorLinda from Denver Colorado on May 21, 2013:

Very beautiful lens Wow!!

Chuck Nelson from California on May 21, 2013:

Great story and photo documentation.

VineetBhandari on May 15, 2013:

Wow!!!!! (this is the only word came to my mind while going through your lens)

MakeHairBows on May 07, 2013:

Amazing...

bornot2b1 on May 01, 2013:

Love your gorgeous photos... So beautiful (the birds and your lens)!

mistaben on April 25, 2013:

Valuable information and Beautiful pictures you got here! Great stuff.

BarbsSpot on April 24, 2013:

@Lensmaster...Wow, what a beautiful photographic story of the Hummingbirds who shared your garden! Congratulations on the LOTD pick and the Purple Star award!

webscribbler on April 24, 2013:

Oh how very lucky that you spotted their nest! It must have been so exciting watching the whole cycle from birth to flight.

What kind of birds are they? Your hummers look browner and rounder than the ones we have.

cmadden on April 17, 2013:

Back for a visit. I love this lens.

geosum on April 17, 2013:

Fantastic lens. I've always enjoyed feeding them.

Whatsittoyou from Canada on April 12, 2013:

What a great experience. It is so rare, at least here, to see hummingbirds nevermind find a nest. Thank you for sharing the story and the great pictures.

Birthday Wishes from Here on April 11, 2013:

What a great story! I loved it from the beginning to the end! Wonderful lens!!! Thanks a lot for sharing your experience.

Laura Hofman from Naperville, IL on April 08, 2013:

Beautiful lens and photos! Thank you for sharing this lovely nature story!

jayavi on March 18, 2013:

Nice lens. Nicely arrange. I love the pictures you took. Thumbs up for your lens.

Michelllle on March 13, 2013:

Wow, the pictures are so amazing. Really incredible. Wow.

maryseena on February 20, 2013:

The most engaging lens I've come across! What a blessing to be witness to this!

Jogalog on February 06, 2013:

What an incredible place for them to nest and you were so lucky to be able to follow their progress until they left the nest. Blessed.

June Nash on January 30, 2013:

This is a fantastic lens!

Vikki from US on January 27, 2013:

That is so sweet and amazing! I just moved and I noticed I have a very little tree under my kitchen window that the birds love to hang out in. I'm hoping for a nest this spring ;) *Blessed*

lionmom100 on January 09, 2013:

This is a wonderful lens. You are so fortunate to see them grow up. We have Anna's and Rufous Hummingbirds here and I can always tell when they babies come to my feeders both because of their size and because they don't quite know what to do. I have not been fortunate enough to see a nest.

forextrading2000 on December 22, 2012:

Great and very informative lens. I loved the way you put all the information and illustrations. It was interesting to read. Thank you.

GardenIdeasHub LM on October 19, 2012:

What an amazing lens. I really enjoyed seeing the progression of the hummingbirds new life. Great job and thank you for sharing!

JuliaAnnPayne on October 01, 2012:

very nice lens...

Fay Favored from USA on September 28, 2012:

Captured and documented so well. I enjoyed this very much.

BarbaraCasey on September 23, 2012:

Not everyone would have had the patience and creativity to document this event. Now the whole world can enjoy it.

dahlia369 on September 19, 2012:

Amazing story and photos, thank you for sharing!! :)

Kay on September 19, 2012:

Wow, your page is just incredible. I so enjoyed watching your season of hummingbirds! Blessed!

Expat Mamasita from Thailand on September 15, 2012:

I get humming birds in my garden and feel so blessed. Excellent lens

,

Tobint44 LM on September 01, 2012:

Great lens!I featured your lens on mine, http://www.squidoo.com/how-to-catch-a-hummingbird . Check it out.

MayaIxchel on August 22, 2012:

What a lovely lens! Beautiful story and photos! Thank you so much for sharing! I keep adding hummer loving plants to our garden in hopes that they might stay for a bit.

wedpittsburgh lm on August 08, 2012:

Oh what an awesome lens!!! I love birds and this was a beautiful story!

sunny saib on August 06, 2012:

:)

sunny saib on August 06, 2012:

:)

anonymous on August 05, 2012:

This lens in amazing. Your pictures are wonderful. You must have been thrilled to be able to watch the whole process.

writerkath on August 02, 2012:

Oh...My....GOSH!!!! I cannot believe this incredible lens, and cannot believe I've never seen it before today! You can SERIOUSLY sell those photos!! I have hummers, and John and I are always saying, "I really wish we could see a nest..." Just last month, I filmed a video of our Eastern Phoebes leaving the nest! (I'm "mountainoceankath" on youtube if you want to see that video).

This is one of the most incredible lenses I think I have ever seen! Just incredible!

Huge Squid Hugs and Angel Blessings to you my friend!! :)

esichrissa on July 30, 2012:

i want to like this lens over and over again. lovely photos and nice documentation

eccles1 on July 30, 2012:

How beautiful !!!

Stephanie from DeFuniak Springs on July 29, 2012:

Awesome photos. I was just working on a hummingbird lens yesterday. I love it!

PhilominaTheSicilian on July 26, 2012:

What a miracle and so heartwarming! Thank you! Warm & fuzzies all over!

WinWriter on July 20, 2012:

Love these pictures. Great job! * Blessed *

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on July 19, 2012:

Just loveable. The pictures are so professional.

Margaret Schindel from Massachusetts on July 17, 2012:

This is a most charming, heartwarming, beautifully told and wonderfully photographed lens! Blessed with love by this SquidAngel!

anonymous on July 15, 2012:

Yes, it was a great story - thanks for sharing!

Gloria Freeman from Alabama USA on July 14, 2012:

Hi so glad I was able to read this, great story. Blessed by Squid Angel flinnie, and added to my lens Squid Angel flinnie.

SianaL on July 14, 2012:

So sweet! I love humming birds!

Lori Green from Las Vegas on July 12, 2012:

This was fantastic!

irubucom on July 12, 2012:

Good coverage of the subject. I have had a few opportunities to capture these beautiful creatures on film. A challenging subject to say the least but so amazing.

ResearchAddict on July 11, 2012:

Yes! Great lens and a fantastic documentary. I have hummingbirds in my yard. I'll have to check next spring for a nest!

jlshernandez (author) on July 10, 2012:

@clayva: Thanks for stopping by. This was quite an experience for me and I felt I had to share this with everyone.

clayva on July 10, 2012:

I showed this to my kids and they were so amazed! We have Hummingbirds zooming all over our back yard but the only nest we ever saw was never inhabited, so this was great to see.

stevel58 on July 04, 2012:

Thanks for the lens, will revisit.

Sadly no Humming Birds in my country, although was very lucky to spot one in Florida whilst on holiday

SteveKaye on July 04, 2012:

This was one of the first lenses that I found when I returned to Squidoo. It's a truly amazing story. So I came back to enjoy it again.

kimark421 on July 03, 2012:

Great photos! I love this lens. Thanks!

Stephanie Tietjen from Albuquerque, New Mexico on July 02, 2012:

This was wonderful, the photo superb, a rare and magical experience. Now I want to get some hanging plants for the many hummingbirds in my yard. Thank you.

ArthurF LM on July 01, 2012:

Those birds are so cute. I wish I could see more hummingbirds but they don't appear often where I live.

Lindrus on June 30, 2012:

Wow, what a wonderful, precious experience! Thanks for a great lens!

Caromite on June 28, 2012:

I love your lens! Great photos, hummingbirds are so beautyful. I'm a little bit sad that there are no hummingbirds in Germany.

anonymous on June 28, 2012:

Yes very well presented

irubucom on June 27, 2012:

Amazing photos thank you

Nimsrules LM on June 27, 2012:

One of the best lenses I've come across on Squidoo yet.

intermarks on June 26, 2012:

I have seen hummingbird before but I could never imagine how the hummingbird's egg looks like. Thanks for sharing this interesting hummingbird story.

Sarah-Jessica on June 17, 2012:

So magic, you were blessed. Beautiful pictures!

JessyGene on June 17, 2012:

Wow, what an incredible lens! Congrats on lotd; you certainly deserved it!

sunny saib on June 15, 2012:

stopping by again.. wanted some really good lens to begin my day with :)

fullofshoes on June 15, 2012:

I have read a lot of lenses and love many but this is definitely at the top of my list of favorites, so beautifully done.... ~blessed~

anonymous on June 15, 2012:

Amazing Lens. Beautiful Pictures

What_to_Know on June 15, 2012:

I never seen a nest before

sandi_x on June 15, 2012:

Great post and great photos

rallo-smith on June 11, 2012:

Absolutely amazing! Thanks for sharing this amazing, once in a lifetime experience

masunyoananda on June 11, 2012:

No words to describe this lens. Love it. Thanks a lot for this great sharing of yours.

sunny saib on June 10, 2012:

wow..

amazing pictures.. and some really persistent monitoring you did there..

if i was an angel i would bless this lens twice.. its one of the most beautiful lenses i have come across.. .. .. :) amazing photos...!

Anthony Altorenna from Connecticut on June 09, 2012:

The hummingbird babies are adorable, and your photos are amazing!

Paul from Liverpool, England on June 09, 2012:

Nipped back to Bless this great lens.

Lenskeeper on June 09, 2012:

Blessed by SquidAngel. Thank you for sharing this experience with Squidoo readers. Nice job on this lens. I love watching hummingbirds, but have never gotten an up-close look such as this!

darciefrench lm on June 08, 2012:

This has to be one of the most precious lenses I have seen, the pictures of these little baby birds growing up are amazing. What a treat for my morning coffee today :)

PeacefieldFarm LM on June 07, 2012:

I'll have to show this to my daughter. We love watching the hummingbirds in our garden. How amazing to find their nest. Thanks for sharing.

Mary Stuart on June 04, 2012:

What a beautiful and heartwarming lens!

Find-Online on June 01, 2012:

This is wonderful, giving us the chance to follow the growth of the baby birds, from hatching to ready to fly. Thanks!

lyttlehalfpint from Canada on May 31, 2012:

I loved this story ... and the pictures brought it all alive. Excellent article, totally enjoyed my visit!

Little Linda Pinda from Florida on May 30, 2012:

Very much. I just told someone about your beautiful adventure 2 days ago. I feel like a gramma to 5 new ducklings that mama brought over to us. I put photos of them on my new Best Father s Day Gift Ideas lens. So precious. I took a really close up photo too.

Budeni on May 30, 2012:

How cute is that? Thanks for taking the time to create such a great lens. :-)

VeseliDan on May 28, 2012:

You are very lucky to have that kind of guests in your home. *blessed*

iWrite4 on May 20, 2012:

wow, this was so interesting story! i really enyojed reading it!

Auntie-M LM on May 20, 2012:

What a charming story. You must truly feel blessed by real little angels in the form of tiny hummingbirds.

Aquavel on May 18, 2012:

I love this lens. The pictures, the story, everything. It made me very happy inside!

poppy mercer from London on May 14, 2012:

Just wonderful...what marvelous photos, and a perfect record of the whole event. Thank you so much...I really loved this, it was a pleasure to visit here. Angel blessings

HenkWillemse on May 10, 2012:

Great story, you are really lucky to have had this experience.

livingfrontiers on May 08, 2012:

What a gift nature gave you on your doorstep...thank you for the lovely story and documentation. They grow up so fast!

Little Linda Pinda from Florida on May 04, 2012:

This is so Awesome. I never had the opportunity to see this and so close up. How exciting.

I am hoping to see little duckling soon. The parents come everyday to visit and eat.

WaynesWorld LM on April 29, 2012:

Sure did, I found a nest once upon a post used to keep a tree propped up. Blended in so perfectly and small.

Einar A on April 29, 2012:

What a treat to get to see this process up close! I've seen a hummingbird nest in the wild, but have never been that close to the babies as they grew up!

ikehook lm on April 27, 2012:

great lens thanks for the hard work

vegetablegardenh on April 24, 2012:

Beautiful lens, love it!

KReneeC on April 14, 2012:

I have never seen anything like this before! Wonderful lens!

Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on April 13, 2012:

This is so sweet! How wonderful that you caught them as eggs and were able to keep photographing them!

FunNaturePhotog on April 13, 2012:

Loved this! I would go crazy with happiness if I found a hummingbird nest and got to watch as they developed. We have a lot of rufous hummers around now so I'm going to start poking around a little in the many trees surrounding our property where they hang out. I really enjoyed reading this story and looking at your photos and videos! Hope you get some more hummingbirds nesting...I wonder if they return to the same spot?

jmatts1 on April 12, 2012:

Incredible story and pictures/videos, thanks for documenting and sharing

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