Hummingbird Nests

Mar 23, 2007Updated 7 months ago

When do hummingbirds build nests?

In general, hummingbirds mate and nest at the times of year when flower blossoms are abundant, although in tropical areas where food is available year round, the breeding season is less predictable. Hummingbird nests are built and tended by the female birds – after mating, the male has no further responsibilities toward reproduction.

Where do hummingbirds build their nests?

Many people have had the good fortune to notice a hummingbird building a nest and rearing young in bushes or trees on their property. For the rest of us, however, the hummingbird nest is likely to be a complete mystery.

To find a hummingbird nest, start looking near a water source. Humidity is important for the development of the embryo inside the egg, so the birds prefer to build near rivers, streams, ponds and lakes. Many species nest near a reliable food supply, so there should be abundant blossoms in the area. At the same time, the nest will be protected from rainfall and direct sunlight, so it’s likely to be tucked away and difficult to spot.

Female hummingbirds are thought to check the strength of a prospective nest site by clinging to it or repeatedly landing on it. If the site passes the test, a female will begin to build – on the underside of a palm leaf, on the side of a vertical plant stem, on a small branch, on top of a cactus – many different locations are used and different species have different preferences. The typical hummingbirds usually build on branches, while the hermit hummingbirds build nests that hang from vegetation or from a vertical plant stem, root, or rock.

The height of a hummingbird nest from the ground varies greatly, even within a single species. Some build very near the ground, or even in caves, while other nest in the canopy.

What does a hummingbird nest look like?

Most typical hummingbirds build cup-shaped nests like the bird’s nests most of us are familiar with. Hermits build cone-shaped nests which hang vertically, attached to something strong enough to support the weight of nest and birds for the breeding season. Hummingbird nests are built with pieces of plants and often cobwebs, and females frequently need to repair the nest as the chicks grow.

A hummingbird usually lays two white eggs, which hatch within three weeks. Hungry nestlings may be seen reaching for the food their mother has brought – the chicks open their mouths in response to air currents created by the beating of her wings. Between three and four weeks after hatching, they’ll be gone.

Other articles about hummingbirds:

Hummingbirds are Migrating

Facts About Hummingbirds


Perrins, Christopher ed. Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds. Buffalo: Firefly Books, 2003