Baby Hummingbirds: From Egg to Fledgling

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Hummingbirds usually lay eggs at least once and up to three times per year, depending on the hummingbird species. The female will lay two white eggs that hatch after about 2-3 weeks, depending on the weather. Most hummingbirds usually lay their eggs during May.

If you want to know when hummingbirds lay eggs, you should be aware that the answer is more nuanced. Most of them lay their eggs a few days after migrating, but that is not always the case. The other question you might have is how often hummingbirds lay eggs.

Some hummingbirds migrate in the spring and summer months to lay their eggs in areas they’ve chosen as nesting sites. Other species don’t migrate and lay their eggs right where they live. If you think these tiny birds couldn’t get cuter, you should see their tiny babies. A baby hummingbird usually weighs about 0.62 grams and is 2 cm long.

rufous hummingbird eating

Hummingbird life cycle

When breeding season begins, males are the first to prepare the grounds (so to speak). Male will establish their territory and will then engage in courtship displays. These mating rituals include hummingbird dances, dives, squeals and sounds, and a display show of their colorful gorget to seek as many partners as possible.

After that, female hummingbirds must continue doing everything else independently. That includes finding a nest site, actual nest building, incubating, and taking care of the nestlings. So the nesting season is the time of year when female hummers start egg-laying & building the nest. Female hummingbirds can brood several times in a nesting season, even going up to five times.

A hummingbird nest is typically made of nesting materials such as moss, leaves, and lichen – and held together with a spider web that acts like glue. The nest is usually made in a tree branch or between the bushes. Hummingbird nests are built to hold two tiny eggs, their typical size being that of a coffee bean or jellybean. A small egg usually weighs between 0.4 grams and 1.4 grams.

The incubation process usually starts when the second egg is in the nest and lasts between two to three weeks. After the eggs hatch, the hummingbird chicks depend entirely on their mother for warmth and food. The mother hummingbird will feed the baby birds regurgitated food using her beak and gather nectar from flowers and hummingbird feeders.

So the hatchling eats what every adult hummingbird eats: nectar for energy, small insects for protein, and water for hydrating. The mother will also ensure that the hatchlings are protected from predators like jays and hawks. She can be pretty territorial and aggressive when protecting her nest and is used to chasing any unfriendly strangers away.

But don’t worry; hummingbird babies grow pretty quickly and leave the nest early. Thus, fledging most commonly happens about 3 to 4 weeks after the young birds have hatched. It only takes a few sessions of practicing their flying skills, and off they go!

hummingbird in nest

How often do hummingbirds lay eggs?

Brooding varies by species of hummingbirds and place. Climate is essential when it comes to nesting. Hummingbirds in a colder climate will lay fewer eggs. Since hummingbirds migrate to warmer places when winter comes, they have less liberty to plan their nesting activities than hummingbirds that stay all year in one place.

For example, Ruby-throated hummingbirds typically brood once a year – they migrate to Mexico and Central America during winter, so travel time contributes to the low frequency. On the other hand, Allen hummingbirds are residents of southern California, and they can have up to three broods per nesting season.

Anna’s hummingbirds stay on the Pacific Coast all the time, so they too usually brood two to three times per season. It takes about 7 weeks for hummingbirds to completely raise a nestling from the moment the egg is laid. Hummingbird can then begin the cycle of propagating their species once again.

eggs in nest
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When do hummingbirds lay eggs?

Typically most hummingbirds will start laying their eggs at the beginning of spring when the chances for a cold frost is over. The time of year that hummingbirds lay eggs depends on many factors, one being location. As we mentioned before, hummingbirds that migrate more often don’t have the time and energy to brood as often as birds that stay in the exact location year-round.

The Ruby-throated hummingbird lays eggs in March-May. Costa’s hummingbirds usually lay their eggs in February up until June. Rufous hummingbirds lay their eggs April-July (typically later during the year)

Can you touch a hummingbird nest?

It is illegal to remove a hummingbirds nest, let alone touch it. If you want to do some bird watching, you definitely can. Just remember (and this goes for any bird’s nest), don’t let your curiosity get the best of you and touch the nest or the baby hummingbirds!

Touching the nest can hurt the babies, stress the mother out, and attract the attention of predators. If you want to see them growing up, observing a nest or filming it with a camera is best, not direct contact.

Final thoughts

This road from egg to baby hummingbird is a fascinating experience to see. If you’ve had the chance to see at least one small part of this nesting process, consider yourself lucky to have witnessed such a miracle. Hummingbirds are unique species of birds that deserve our respect and protection. To learn more about them, their life cycle, and how to help them thrive, follow these tips:

  • You can help mother hummingbirds take better care of their babies by putting hummingbird feeders outside and adding nectar to them as often as possible.
  • Planting red tubular flowers that they can extract that nectar from building a hummingbird-friendly habitat in your back garden (filled with native plants and insects roaming around)
  • Respecting their space.


Alexandra has a deep love for the natural world. She likes to experience it fully but also loves learning about the science behind it. She has a special relationship with hummingbirds and enjoys witnessing their beauty and grace whenever she’s out.

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