When doing yard work, take a closer look at your shrubs and trees before doing any trimming — there may be tiny hummingbird nests tucked away in the branches.
Because destroying their homes is against the law.
Everyone knows hummingbirds are small creatures, but their nest and eggs are really, really small. For example, a typical hummingbird nest weighs about one-tenth of an ounce. The Ruby-throated hummingbird’s nest is roughly the size of a thimble. And the eggs? They’re about the size of jelly beans or navy beans.
Even if you love watching these birds, you might not be aware of how these tiny buggers nest. In an effort to protect these beautiful creatures, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a list to help you help protect these birds.
“Hummingbird eggs are tiny, about the size of jelly beans!” the US Fish and Wildlife Service said in a statement. “Please remember to carefully check for nests before you trim trees and shrubs this spring.”
It’s pretty easy to miss something the size of a thimble if you’re not looking for it. But it’s not just the nest size that’s the issue — it’s where the female hummingbirds choose to build their tiny homes, too.
Mama hummingbirds build their nests in sheltered areas like shrubs and trees, but they can also set up camp on your porch, garage, or even your clothesline. The nest is typically built where branches fork.
For the outside of the nest, the hummingbird weaves together twigs, plant fibers, moss, and leaves, using spider silk from spider webs as binding and to tie the nest to the branch.
For the inside, she creates a soft, warm environment for her eggs by tucking fluffy fibers from certain plants around them. She typically lays two eggs, which she incubates for 15 to 18 days. Once hatched, the chicks rely on their mom for food and care for 18 to 28 days before heading out on their own.
Their warning is simple and non-threatening. But did you know that tampering with most bird nests is considered illegal?
Birds’ nests that are “active” — meaning birds or eggs are present — are protected by law. Tampering with the nest or moving it is forbidden unless you obtain a special permit. Even then, these permits are rarely granted.
In fact, even if you want to keep a now-empty nest for educational purposes, you probably will have to get a state and/or federal permit, because of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which falls under federal law.
Hummingbirds are quick creatures and can flap their wings 80 times in 1 second. They eat a lot and eat often since they move so much and burn so much energy. Though they do love drinking flower nectar, they also eat a variety of bugs for protein, like mosquitoes, spiders, gnats, and fruit flies.
They don’t travel too far to find food, so if you spot a female hummingbird near your home, chances are that her nest isn’t far.