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Hummingbird Nests: Interesting Facts and More

Anna's_Hummingbird_Nest
Hummingbird nests are amazing feats of nature. Despite being as little as two inches, hummingbirds can create beautiful and elaborate nests that withstand elements and fool predators.

These tiny nests can be hard to find, but seeing one in person (from a safe distance, of course) is an amazing experience. So we’re going over where you might find a hummingbird nest, what they’re made out of, and some fun facts.

What Do Hummingbird Nests Look Like?

If you want to see one of these tiny nests in person, you first have to know what you’re looking for. Generally speaking, hummingbird nests look like small, camouflaged knots on a tree limb that probably wouldn’t catch your eye if you weren’t looking closely.

The size depends on the type of hummingbird, but they can be the size of a large thimble and have a similar shape. According to one site, an average hummingbird nest is only about 1 1/2 inches in diameter or the size of a ping pong ball. They resemble small, upside-down cups and are designed to get larger once the birds grow.

The eggs themselves are about the size of a navy bean or very small jelly bean, so that gives you a better idea about how big the nest needs to be.

Hummingbird Nest Locations

756px-Vervain_HummingbirdNot many have actually seen hummingbird nests because they are so small and hard to find. Females will typically build their nests hidden in trees or shrubs that are well above the ground (anywhere from 10 feet to 90 feet high).

The small nests are vulnerable to predators and the elements, so it’s no surprise they go through great lengths to make them invisible and sheltered.

She’ll usually build a nest where there’s a cross in a branch because it offers a good base, and the nest will rarely, if ever, be in direct sunlight.

If you want to see one with your own eyes, the best way to find one would be to stalk a female hummingbird. That’s easier said than done though.

What Are the Nests Made From?

The nests themselves are built with care to ensure the greatest possibility of cover, durability, and survival for the young. Here are just a few things hummingbirds use to make a nest:

  • Spider silk
  • Cotton fibers
  • Leaves
  • Lichen
  • Moss

Spider silk is one of the more important materials because it’s what holds the nest together. When trying to get hummingbirds to nest nearby, you can also buy nesting material to hang up that hummers will use.

Are Hummingbird Nests Reused?

The simple answer is no. After the nest has been used, it will not be reused. However, if the spot is perfect, a hummingbird will return to the same spot and make a new nest nearby or even on top of the old one. Over time, these old nests will be taken apart and used as material for new nests by hummingbirds and other species.

Watch a Hummingbird Build a Nest

Here’s a short video showing an Anna’s Hummingbird building her nest. In actuality, a hummer will spend up to a week constructing a nest.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.