Hummingbird Mom builds a functional home — and a stunning work of art.
She’s sitting in her flawlessly-crafted nest this very moment. Mother hummer has chosen the bougainvillea vine on our front patio as her maternity ward. We’ve decided to enter our house through the back door now because we don’t want to disturb her. After all, the gestation period for hummingbird babies is just 18 days. Last year she flew in (most likely from Mexico) to lay and incubate her two pea-sized eggs — but she unexpectedly left — without seeing her young break through. She’s back, and we want to make her stay as comfortable as possible.
The factoids on these magnificent creatures (listed below) may be sobering, impressive, and just hard to believe — but to me, the real story is the art and architecture emerging out of a bird that weighs less than a penny. I cannot stop examining the structure and beauty of this inch-and-a-half wide thriving little cup of nature. Our spotted “rufous” hummingbird has gathered the most delicate of leaves, dainty flower petals, and flexible twigs. She has camouflaged them with bits of lichen, and spun and glued the “found objects” together with borrowed spider webs. She has created one of the most intricate, and interesting functional collages I’ve ever seen. (Except maybe those of artist Elliot Hundley, Pic #2.)
Much like the work of contemporary “fiber artists” (Pic #3) Mother has sculpted a sort of free-form design with her organic materials, with the added benefit of a solid foundation on which she can raise her family.
Ten days to go. I’m a wreck.
Just the Facts:
- A hummingbird’s heart beats up to 1,260 times per minute.
- While diving, her wings will beat up to 200 times per second.
- She will take about 250 breaths per minute –while at rest.
- They are the only birds who can fly forward and backward.
- Some hummingbirds will travel over 2000 miles twice a year.
- To extract nectar, she will visit an average of 1,000 flowers per day.
- When hummingbirds sleep at night, they go into a hibernation-like state called torpor.
- A hummingbird’s favorite color is red.