Avid gardeners are preparing for Spring, which usually means the annual task of pruning and trimming trees and shrubs. And while this is a necessary undertaking, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would like people to be careful and check the branches first, in case they might damage or destroy a hummingbird nest by accident.
The tiny birds’ nests are easy to miss, as they are no bigger than a thumbnail (or thimble), and the eggs are no larger than jelly beans.
The government agency shared an informative picture of a hummingbird nest on their Facebook page to help educate people pruning their trees to be on the lookout, especially if there are hummingbirds in their area.
“Hummingbird eggs are tiny, about the size of jelly beans! Please remember to carefully check for nests before you trim trees and shrubs this spring,” they wrote.
Since posting, their advice has gone viral, with many people commenting they had never seen a hummingbird nest before and plan on being more careful when trimming their greenery.
Hummingbirds construct their nests out of spider webs, lichen and plant matter, meaning they are extremely delicate. The lichen also does a good job of camouflaging their nests.
The nests usually are built on a branch with a downward-slant, and often will be on a branch hanging over running water or open space.
Ruby-throated females attach their nests to small twigs or branches and may lay eggs in a second nest while still feeding the young in the first! It takes between 16 to 18 days for their eggs to hatch, but it may sometimes be longer during cool weather.
The Ruby-throated hummingbird will usually only lay two eggs in their nest. They typically lay one egg, skip a day, then lay a second. They will not lay one, as this would not maximize their reproductive potential, but three would produce too many chicks for her to care for effectively!
What fascinating birds! Next time I’m gardening I’ll be especially careful if I know hummingbirds are in my neighborhood.