Baby Hummingbirds

Hummingbird mating is as unique and special as the hummingbird itself.  The conjugal act in hummingbird mating is referred to as a cloaca kiss.  While it sounds intimate, you should note that hummingbirds are aggressive and solitary creatures.

The Cloaca is located near the posterior of hummingbird’s body.  This opening allows sperm to move from the male to the female.  Penetration is not possible since the male hummingbird does not have an exterior member like an external penis.  The Cloaca in hummingbirds is the only opening so, in additional to reproduction, it is also utilized for intestinal and urinary purposes.

While the male hummingbird’s task is to secure territory by choosing one that has lots of colorful nectar producing flowers, the task of nest building belongs to the female hummingbird.  She uses plant materials such as grass, animal hair and lichen to build her nest.  She borrows the sticky substance from the spider’s web to hold and shape her nest, and adhere it to its location.  In order to protect her home, the nest is often high up and camouflaged within a tree.  Since the nest is not often larger than half a golf ball, it is not easy to spot.  If you happen to find a hummingbird nest, you should consider yourself extremely lucky!

Hummingbird mating takes no more than five seconds, a quick and simple obligatory act since they are not naturally social.  Soon after returning from their winter sojourn, the female begins preparation by building her nest.  When males arrive shortly after, they look for lush, bright and colorful territories that will win the favor of the female.  Also, they perform amazing acrobatic with flight patterns that include flying upwards of 15 meters or more, then speed diving until the last possible moment only to swing up in a U-turn.  This continues until the male runs out of energy or when the female makes her choice.

The male hummingbird sounds off its wings loudly and makes vocal chitter to keep the attention of the female.  The female hummingbird often chooses the most energetic male.  Females may also select the male bird with a territory most abundant in nectar, food or water.  As soon as the moment is over, so is their friendship.  The “father” hummingbird, like any other creature, is not welcomed from this point forward.  Male hummingbirds continue to court other females.  This practice benefits the hummingbird species by keeping the population secure.

Typically, the female lays her eggs two days apart.  After laying the second, incubation begins and lasts between 12 and 15 days.  If the day temperature is cooler than ideal, additional days are needed.  She then broods, feeds and cleans her baby hummingbirds and nest while primping and grooming herself.  The baby hummingbird’s diet consists of nectar and small insects.  About four weeks after hatching, baby hummingbirds will outgrow their nest and have all their feathers.  Although Mom will continue to feed fledglings for a bit longer, soon after they will be considered as fair competition.

When the warm weather makes way for cooler seasons, hummingbird mating will conclude.  The birds will fly south again, but will return for at about the same time next year to mate again.  If you grow a bright garden of nectar producing flowers and add lots of hummingbird feeders, you just may see a mother hummingbird tending to her babies.  Good luck!

 

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