Hummingbird lovers may wonder, do hummingbirds use birdhouses?
The beautiful, tiny hummingbird does not create a traditional nest like many species of birds. And, they will not use birdhouses of any kind, color, or shape. So we don’t see hummingbird houses like we would with other bird species. Why is this?
Hummingbirds are not cavity-nesters, and therefore the nests they build are very tiny (sometimes only 1 inch wide!) bowl-shaped nests. They are well hidden up in trees, usually from 10 to 40 feet up.
This protects the tiny birds from the elements, predators, and prying eyes. Let’s learn more about how hummingbirds create their unique nests, and what we can do to help them.
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- What Is a Hummingbird Nest Made of?
- How Does a Hummingbird Build Her Nest?
- Where Do Hummingbirds Build Their Nests?
- When Do Hummingbirds Build Their Nests?
- How Can You Make Your Yard Attractive to Hummingbirds?
- How to Help Hummingbirds Find Nesting Material
- What to Do if You Locate a Hummingbird Nest
- Conclusion: Do Hummingbirds Use Birdhouses?
What Is a Hummingbird Nest Made of?
You might not realize it, but a hummingbird nest is an amazing feat of engineering. Although they are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, hummingbird nests are strong enough to protect their babies from the elements and predators.
So, what are they made of? The foundation of a hummingbird nest is typically made from plant materials like leaves, grass, and bark. To this, the bird will add soft materials like moss and lichen to create a comfortable lining for her eggs.
And finally, the outside of the nest is often coated with spider silk from spider webs (sorry, spiders!) to help waterproof it and keep it firmly attached to its branch or twig. All in all, a hummingbird nest is a complex structure that provides a safe and cozy home for its tiny occupants.
How Does a Hummingbird Build Her Nest?
Now that we know what a hummingbird nest looks like, let’s take a closer look at how they are built.
The first thing a female hummingbird will do is find a suitable location for her nest. They usually build nests in tree branches or shrubs and are often quite high off the ground.
Once in a while, a female hummingbird will choose an unlikely location to build her nest, like on top of a porch light, on a backyard fountain or statue, inside a hanging flower basket, or in a basketball net. It’s not common but it does happen.
Once she has found the perfect spot, she will begin to build her nest by adding plant material to the chosen location. She will then shape these nesting materials into a small bowl and line it with soft materials like moss and lichen, feathers, thistles, small pieces of bark, and dandelion fluff.
Finally, she will add spider silk to help waterproof the outside of the nest and keep it firmly attached to its branch or twig. How amazing is that?
This process can take up to seven days, a huge task for such a tiny bird!
Where Do Hummingbirds Build Their Nests?
Most species of hummingbirds are quite particular about where their nest is located. As mentioned above, the perfect spot is usually quite high off the ground, at least 10 feet.
They prefer the cover of deciduous trees and dense shrubs, selecting a spot where there is a fork in a small branch. A location close to water is also a priority, as the area surrounding is typically cooler.
Food sources are also important. The female will want to build her nest near an area where there are nectar-rich flowers.
All of these factors come into play when a hummingbird is choosing a location for her nest.
When Do Hummingbirds Build Their Nests?
Now that spring has arrived, you may be wondering when hummingbirds will start to nest. These tiny birds are among the first to return north in the spring, and they typically begin nesting soon after they arrive.
The female builds the nest on her own, as discussed above, using bits of bark, leaves, and fluffy material like plant down. She shapes it into a cup and lines it with soft materials such as feathers or moss.
The entire process usually takes less than a week, and the female will often build several nests over the course of the breeding season.
Once the nest is complete, she will lay two eggs and incubate them for about two weeks. The chicks are born blind and unable to fly, but they grow quickly and fledge within three to four weeks. If you’re lucky enough to spot a hummingbird nest, be sure to give the bird some space and enjoy this amazing feat of nature from a distance.
Watch as a Hummingbird Builds Her Tiny Nest:
How Can You Make Your Yard Attractive to Hummingbirds?
You can attract nesting hummingbirds to your yard by planting flowers that are rich in nectar, such as cardinal flowers, columbines, and bee balm.
Avoid using pesticides, as they can be harmful to these delicate creatures.
To encourage hummingbirds, consider adding a sugar-water feeder to your yard. Clean the hummingbird feeder regularly, and be sure to use a solution that is four parts water to one part sugar.
Put your hummingbird feeders out early in the season to attract the little hummers as they search for nearby nesting possibilities.
Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red, so you may also want to consider adding some red accents to your yard.
You might have more success in attracting hummingbirds by minimizing feeders for other bird species.
Keeping animals such as dogs and cats away, and minimizing loud noises will also help attract hummingbirds to your backyard.
By taking these simple steps, you can create an inviting space for these beautiful birds that might be nesting nearby.
How to Help Hummingbirds Find Nesting Material
If you’re a hummingbird lover and want to help your hummers build their nests, consider leaving materials like this in your yard for them to find:
- dog or cat hair
- dryer lint
- bits of thread or yarn
- your discarded hair from a brush
What to Do if You Locate a Hummingbird Nest
Hummingbird nests are small, often no bigger than a walnut. They are well camouflaged and can be difficult to spot.
If you find a hummingbird nest, resist the temptation to touch it or disturb the area around it. Instead, enjoy watching the birds from a distance.
If the nest is in a place where it is likely to be disturbed by people or animals, you can contact your local wildlife rehabilitation center for advice on how to protect it. Remember, it is illegal to remove a hummingbird nest from its natural location.
By following these simple guidelines, you can help ensure that these fascinating creatures will continue to thrive.
Conclusion: Do Hummingbirds Use Birdhouses?
Hummingbirds are fascinating creatures, and now you know how incredible their nest-building instincts are, because they do not utilize man-made bird houses. If you’re lucky enough to find a hummingbird nest, be sure to give the birds some space and enjoy this amazing feat of nature from a distance.
You can also help attract nesting hummingbirds to your yard by planting flowers that are rich in nectar, adding a sugar-water feeder, and minimizing noise and other disturbances. If you find a hummingbird nest, resist the temptation to touch it or disturb the area around it, and contact your local wildlife rehabilitation center for advice on how to protect it if necessary.