Did you know that it typically takes a female hummingbird a little less than a week to construct the nest from start to finish? Or that the female hummingbird will average well over 100 trips per day while constructing the nest and they will work for about 4 hours per day? You will discover this and much more about the amazing nature of the hummingbird’s nest and what makes for the perfect nesting site.
The foundation of a hummingbird’s nest is made of spider webs because they are sticky in nature. The next layer consists of soft materials such as moss or leaf hairs. These initial layers form the shape the nest, and then more spider webs are added to the nest. Then a layer of camouflage is added to the nest and can consist of such things as seeds to small twigs. The camouflage of the nest is darker on shaded parts of the nest and lighter where it is sunnier. The walls of the nest are thicker on the windier side of the nest and the inside of the nest is shaped by the mother’s own body.
Whenever selecting a nest site, the female hummingbird has two very important priorities that determine her choice of a nest site: temperature and protection from the elements. The selected site must be a place where temperatures will stay below 96 degrees F, or the embryos will literally be fried due to the extreme exposure to the sun. For this reason, higher altitudes see more hummingbirds nesting in their areas. Many hummingbirds nesting sites are located near bodies of water. It is because of this that hummingbirds prefer to build near rivers, streams, ponds and lakes. Many species also choose to nest near a reliable food supply, so the birds are looking for there to be abundant blossoms in the area. At the same time, the nest will be protected from rainfall and direct sunlight, thus making it likely to be tucked away and difficult to spot.
Female hummingbirds 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. The nest will be built on the underside of a palm leaf, on the side of a vertical plant stem, on a small branch, on top of a cactus or many other different locations are used and different species have different preferences. Typically, hummingbirds usually build on branches, but the hermit hummingbirds build nests that hang from vegetation or from a vertical plant stem, root, or rock.
No matter what type of climate a hummingbird chooses to settle in, the mother must choose a location safe from the harmful effects of high winds. This is the best way to try and help ensure that the eggs don’t roll out of the nest because they are likely to break or be eaten. All of these issues factor into the choice of a nesting location.