When it comes to nests, hummingbirds are similar to other wild birds — they won’t reuse their old bird nests. Hummingbird nests are too fragile to last more than one season, so females often make a new one once they’re back from migrating.
These nests are also camouflaged well, so chances are you won’t even notice them. Here’s what you need to know if you’re wondering whether you can move the nest you found.
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Do Hummingbirds Return to Old Nests?
Many hummingbirds across North America won’t reuse the same nest. Even though these birds will have multiple broods each year, their nests are so fragile they won’t last another incubation period.
Plus, hummingbirds aren’t homebodies, and they like moving around, exploring new places to eat, and laying eggs. Some will even destroy the nest after the babies leave it. Still, that doesn’t mean they won’t return to the same area.
If these birds find stocked hummingbird feeders and nice flowers, they will likely return to the same garden yearly.
How Many Times Will a Hummingbird Use the Same Nest?
Typically a hummingbird will not return to that same nest; However, those that return will only do so if the nest is strong and can hold the eggs and the birds. In many cases, hummingbirds nests will be rendered unusable after weathering the elements such as rain and time.
Even though most female hummers will leave their nests after the nestlings grow up, some do return to the same spot once more. For example, some birdwatchers may see the Broad-tailed hummingbirds revisiting their old nesting spot.
How Do Female Hummingbirds Find the Spot?
Female hummingbirds are masters in finding the right spot for their nests. They look for sheltered locations to ensure their hatchlings remain protected from the sun, wind, rain, and predators.
Mother hummingbirds will often select the place among forked tree branches or in dense bushes — thorny ones since they provide extra protection. The nest site could also be among:
- inside porch lamps
- on top of statues or windchimes
- inside a playing net
- attached to a conifer plant
- inside potted ficus trees
- near outside structures and garden elements
The future mom will land on a selected spot multiple times to test its ability to hold her and the baby hummingbirds. How high she’ll build the nest depends on her species, but usually, the nest can be found up to 60 ft above the ground.
Their nests are up to half a mile away from feeders, flowering plants, and other favorite feeding sources. The female hummer is solely responsible for building a new nest. Before or after breeding season, the future mom will spend many hours each day for about a week collecting materials to build the nest for her baby birds.
How to Attract Hummingbirds to Nest?
Unlike other bird species, hummingbirds choose not the lay eggs in birdhouses or nest boxes since they’re not cavity nesters. However, you can still do many things to attract them to your yard and help them find a good spot for nesting.
The food source is the main reason a hummer will prefer one spot over another. Place feeders in your yard to attract the birds. Also, don’t use harsh chemicals around the garden, such as insect sprays.
Plant flowers they like and get to know them better. Both males and females will keep returning to your garden to mate and make babies every season.
How Can I Tell if a Hummingbird Nest Is Still in Use?
Finding the hummingbird’s nest is hard. It’s usually camouflaged high on a tree, so you can easily miss them. However, if you find a hummingbird nest, it will likely look like a tree knot. You can find out if the nest is still in use by observing it. If you see the mom coming to it, eggs could still be inside.
Should I Remove Hummingbird Nest?
In the US, touching or removing an active hummingbird nest is illegal. If you happen to find one, the only thing you should do is observe it from a distance. This will reduce the nest disturbances and help the mom feel safe.
Once the babies hatch, the mom will likely destroy the nest. Still, if the nest is attached to something you need, you can remove it only after you’re entirely sure that no bird will return to it.
Is It Okay for a Hummingbird to Build a Nest in My House?
Hummingbirds prefer building nests close to people. This is because people help keep other predators away. However, they’ll hardly build a nest inside the house.
Instead, they may go for potted plants or statues in your yard, and that’s okay for as long as you want them around. If not, remove the feeders and fountains, and you’ll reduce the chance of them returning next year.
What Is the Nest Made Of?
The nest construction can be made of many different nesting materials, including
- spider silk
- spider webs
- plant fibers
- feathers, fuzz, or fur
The Appearance of the Nest
The female hummer will use her beak to weave these materials together and create a dense cup decorated with moss for camouflage. The edge of the nest is bent slightly inwards to protect the hummingbird eggs from falling out.
The nest size is relative to the species, but they’re usually the size of a large walnut or a golf ball. Since spider silk is incorporated into the cup, the nest will expand as the hummingbird chicks grow.
Once they fledge, the babies will stay in the nest until they grow completely. This is also one of the differences between hummers and other songbirds — most will leave their nests earlier to learn to fly.
How to Identify the Species of Hummingbirds by Their Nest?
Different hummingbird species make different kinds of nests in other places. For example:
- Anna’s hummingbird – Nest on horizontal branches six to 20 ft off the ground. They build the nest while incubating.
- Ruby-throated hummingbirds – Attach their nests to branches using spider silk and cover the outside with lichens.
- Rufous hummingbird – Future moms select a protected location for a nest. These may reuse their nests occasionally.
- Black-chinned hummingbird – Make deep cups with ends pointed inwards to protect the youth.
- Calliope hummingbird – Build multiple nests on top of one another, often attached to a conifer cone.
- Magnificent hummingbirds – Out of all North American kinds, these build the largest nests.
Fun Facts About Hummingbird Nests
Here are some fun facts about the hummers’ nests:
- from the ground, they look like just another tree bump
- some kinds build nests up to 90 ft
- hummingbird eggs are the size of a coffee bean
- some hummers are tame near their nesting sites
- some already have youngsters in the first nest when they build a second one
- males never join the females in nest building
You’ll quickly find the hummingbird’s nest if you are an experienced birder. However, it’s best to leave it alone. Their nests are too fragile and won’t last longer than one mating season.
This is also why most hummingbirds won’t reuse them. Instead, they’ll move on to find another safe spot to lay their eggs and take care of the babies.