July 17, 2020
Hummingbird nest in live oak was bursting at the seams before the babies fledged


Mary Reid Barrow


The story goes that a hummingbird nest is built of thistle for softness and spider webs for elasticity.

 It’s a good thing too because the tiny hummer nest at the Oceanfront, about the size of a shot glass, was stretching at the seams before two fledgling hummingbirds took flight from their home in a live oak tree.

 No one saw the youngsters leave, but Jeffrey Fine took these  delightful photos over the weekend while his parents, Barbara and Andrew Fine, were away. 

 I happened to visit the babes the next day. They looked like they were busting out of the nest and I could imagine the siblings’ daily spats.

Sibling 1:  “Move over!  Mom, she’s taking up all the room!” 

Sibling 2:  “No, you move over.  It’s your fault.”

Sibling 1:  “Is not.”

Sibliing 1:  “Is so.”

And so on, until that weekend when some time after I saw them and before the Fines got home, the little ones decided to do something about their crowded space and off they flew.

 The female hummingbird chose to construct her nest on a live oak branch that was right off the Fines’ second floor deck.  The couple was able to watch the whole process from beginning to almost end.

 Barbara Fine even watched as  mama sat on her nest to protect her young ones during that gully washer of a rain storm we had a couple of weeks ago,  not long before they fledged.

 It’s been a couple of weeks now and though the Fines don’t have a hummingbird feeer,  it makes me think that these youngsters and lots of others will begin showing up at hummingbird feeders all over the beach before too long.

 Until now, we have  seen mainly male hummers at our feeders.   Dead-beat dads, in their gaudy attire of shiny green backs and ruby-red throats, spend spring and early summer just gadding about the neighborhood feeder bars.   

 Meanwhile, moms with their green backs and pale white throats build the nests, incubate the eggs and feed the young on their own.  During that time, they may dart into a feeder for a quick drink, but for the most part, small protein-filled insects make up the females’ diet and are what she feeds her babies exclusively.

 By now, moms should be teaching their teens how to drive, or rather how to navigate the art of sipping nectar from flowers and feeders on the wing.  So be on the watch.

  “My feeder!”  “No, my feeder!” The youngsters will say as they zoom at one another.

 And the sibling rivalry begins again!

 Do you have a favorite tree, a secret tree grove or neighborhood climbing tree that you love?  Let me know your stories about trees,  the critters who live in them and the insects that dine on them.  Send an email to


 Mary Reid Barrow


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