Anna’s Hummingbirds Building Nests

by Larry Jordan on February 14, 2012

Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) photos by Larry Jordan

Every year around this time, I begin to see an influx of Anna’s Hummngbirds (Calypte anna). I keep a few feeders up all year because I always have at least one or two hummers that seem to stay year round. Click on photos  for full sized images.

I had been hearing and seeing the Anna’s Hummingbird male performing his famous “dive display” so I put out the nesting material which, I believe, is simply raw cotton.

I was out doing yard work when my wife informed me from the back porch, “hey there’s a hummingbird building a nest.”

The female builds the nest by alternating between plant down gathered on 3–4 successive trips and spider webs collected on 2 trips. The sides and rim develop as she sits in the nest, pushing nest material with her breast while turning frequently. Building begins in early morning and continues actively until late morning, then slows to a stop in midafternoon, but sometimes continues all day, depending somewhat on the weather1.

The inner cup is lined loosely with downy material (plant, feathers, hair). Walls are made of downy material including cattail, willow, underside of sycamore leaves, thistle, eucalyptus flowers, and small feathers. Binding materials are mostly spider webs and insect cocoon fibers, but also fibrous plant material and rodent hairs. Usually ornamented on the outside with bits of lichens, mosses, and dead leaves; occasionally bark, algae or other plant materials1.

This is a photo from Nina over at Nature Remains of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird nest. You can see her journal following this nesting hummer here.

I shot a short video of the Anna’s Hummingbirds gathering the nest material from my back porch. I also want to add this disclaimer that the lights you see on my back porch are not left up from Christmas time, they are actually the lights we use on the porch at night rather than white lights 😉

If you want to watch an Allen’s Hummingbird web cam, it’s really cool and you can see it here. If you want to see lots more cool bird photos, check out World Bird Wednesday!

References: 1Birds of North America Online

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

heyBJK February 14, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Fantastic shots! Hummingbirds are so fun to watch!


TexWisGirl February 14, 2012 at 1:51 pm

so great that you put out the nesting material. 🙂


Eileen February 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Larry, lucky you! What a cool sighting of the hummer taking the nesting material. You got some awesome shots.


Andrew February 14, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Hummingbirds are a little bird I would love to see in the wild one day…
Fantastic images.


Mia McPherson February 14, 2012 at 2:43 pm

I love this post Larry because it is so very informative about this hummingbird’s nest building process.


Julie G. February 14, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Oh, what a joy to see the hummingbird collecting nesting material! Fantastic photographs! The video is a delight. We have lots of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds on our property (in the spring and summer) but I have yet to see a nest. How fortunate you are to observe such behavior. What a glorious sight! Thanks for sharing!


Carletta February 14, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Wow, you got some really great shots of the hummingbird with the material in its mouth and then the video of watching it – awesome!
I have a tree on my front porch with lights I keep up all year – I’m so with you on the lights. 🙂


Mick February 14, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Great photos and the nest building description was very interesting. You are fortunate to be able to watch the birds so closely.


Crafty Gardener February 14, 2012 at 4:57 pm

amazing photos of the hummingbird


holdingmoments February 14, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Great to watch that video Larry, and the pictures are excellent. Such a beautiful little bird.


Wanda February 14, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Great post Larry, love the video! Last summer was my first year feeding Hummers and I can’t wait for them to return this year.

I love the idea of placing nesting material close-by for them to use, Your lucky little hummers will have the most comfortable and stylish nest on the block!


Martha Z February 14, 2012 at 7:18 pm

I have two feeders and the Anna’s are active. I’m sure there is a nest around but I have no idea where.


ramblingwoods February 14, 2012 at 7:50 pm

wow..I put out that same material in that same wire cage but I’ve only seen the goldfinch take it. Now I will have to watch more carefully, but I won’t see any hummers till spring…that little female was really loading up on it..LOL..


Stewart M - Australia February 15, 2012 at 3:11 am

Hi there – the very idea of having hummingbirds in your yard is rather difficult to understand!

Cheers – Stewart M – Australia


Liz February 15, 2012 at 9:06 am

Great shots Larry!
A lovely bird and great flight shots.


Boom & Gary February 15, 2012 at 10:56 am

Wonderful close ups!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.


Mary Howell Cromer February 15, 2012 at 11:21 am

Oh how exciting, these are such terrific images!!!


Pat February 15, 2012 at 9:13 pm

I loved watching the hummer gathering nest material! I’ve been following the Hummingbird cam for several years now – so fascinating.


joo February 16, 2012 at 6:13 am

It’s such a beautiful wee creature!


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