Hummingbirds: The Best Bird Mom Ever!
It’s mighty bold to single out a single bird type and declare them the best mom ever. Right?
But let’s just see how strong a case can be made that hummingbirds are indeed the best bird moms ever!
First and foremost, mother hummingbirds have to deal with the worst bird fathers ever. Her mate will play absolutely no role in helping her to build the nest, incubate the eggs or feed the young. He’s not only an absentee father, he can also be a bully that makes her life more difficult every time she comes to the nectar feeder. The odds are stacked against her right from the start!
Typically, birds that migrate long distances only produce one brood per year, but not the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Being the sole parent, you would think one nesting would be enough, but no, she takes the hard road and will typically have two broods each summer.
Each of these nestings will take about 45 days from the start of nest construction to the time her youngsters leave the nest. And then she starts it all over again. This three month, non-stop commitment to her next generation is truly amazing! And amazingly successful! Despite raising her family alone, female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have one of the highest nesting success rates of any Neotropical bird that migrants to North America.
Besides all of the hard work, another factor in this successful nesting rate is the precision and care that a mother hummingbird puts into the construction of her highly camouflaged nest. It takes about a week for her to build a walnut-sized nest. She makes hundreds of trips to collect enough plant down, spider webs and lichens to finish it. Then she fills the completed nest with two of the world’s smallest eggs…about the size of small blueberries. But even with these tiny eggs, mom (weighing in at a miniscule 1/10 of an ounce) only weighs about 8 times more than each of the eggs she lays. A feat unto itself!
Need we go on? It’s time to declare hummingbirds as the best bird moms ever! And it is time to make sure to share the wonder, awe and joy of hummingbirds in your own backyard with your own best mom this Mother’s Day, too!
To hear more about the best bird moms ever, be sure to check out the Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Centered Podcast episode, “Hummingbirds: It’s All About Mom!” Hosts John and Brian will share more facts and stories about amazing hummingbird mothers. Available May 5th.