While we’re not watching

The backyard drops away from where our house sits on the hill. Because of that, our view from our windows is at, if not treetop level, certainly a tree-house level. From the bay windows around our kitchen table, I can watch birds while I eat. Since I spend a fair amount of time doing that on a daily basis, I witness things in the woods I might miss were I not watching.

Like this little hummingbird, for example.

The little humming bird is perched on the sycamore tree in the center of this photo.

“That little bird really likes to land at that spot,” I said to Mark. “I’ve seen it in that same exact spot several times in the past couple of days.”


I wanted to get it’s picture so I zoomed in with my camera, but the little lady wasn’t there.


I didn’t realize it immediately, but you may have guessed. She was making a nest.


It looks more like a nest when she is sitting on it.


She doesn’t rest there long.

Hummingbird with cottonwood seed fluff.

She’s busy scavenging building materials like cottonwood seeds,

Hummingbird with spider web

or spider webs, that you can just barely see if you look below her beak.

Hummingbird building nest

Then she has to tuck everything into the nest she’s building.


By the end of the day, she had made the nest cozy and comfortable with the soft white cottonseeds.


I don’t know if she spent the night there or not.

According to rubythroat.org, after the hummingbirds mate, the male and female have little or nothing to do with each other. She will be a single parent. A day or two after her nest is complete, she will lay two pea-sized eggs. Occasionally there may be only one, but she knows better than to try to manage feeding three on on her own—so usually only two.

Incubation lasts about two weeks. I should be able to tell because during this time period she will be on the nest 50 to 55 minutes every hour.

When the chicks hatch they are about 2 cm in length and not able to keep their bodies warm. The mother still stays with them, but leaves the nest for quick trips to find food which may be nectar, pollen, and tiny insects.

The chicks will stay in the nest about three weeks.

I’m really hoping to shoot a photo of the mother feeding the babies.

After dinner, Mark and I sat on our screened in porch, also at tree-house level. We saw a young doe, and then later a young buck, wander along the creek just inside the woods at the bottom of our yard. We listened to bird calls, occasionally hearing one we didn’t recognize. And watched an occasional flash of red in the trees as a cardinal found its perch for the night.

I feel fortunate to witness some of the wildlife here that shares this woods and this planet with us, and I wonder at all that I miss while I’m not watching.




11 thoughts on “While we’re not watching”

  1. That’s cool. We have several feeders and also look out at eye level and lower, woods as far as we can see. Will have to get the binoc out and spy a bit. Currently the excitement is the family of Downy woodpeckers that have been coming to the feeder. Mommy picks off a bit and feeds it to one of 3 or 4 babies. Our Pileated is back. I’ve heard it but haven’t see yet this year. And of course, the Red-tailed Hawks are ever present hoping to snatch one of our chickens. Our wrens have moved out of the old shoe on the porch and hopefully are building the next nest somewhere else.

    Warm regards, cousin Harry

    On Sun, May 29, 2016 at 1:44 PM, Christine M. Grote wrote:

    > CMSmith posted: “The backyard drops away from where our house sits on the > hill. Because of that, our view from our windows is at, if not treetop > level, certainly a tree-house level. From the bay windows around our > kitchen table, I can watch birds while I eat. Since I spen” >

    1. That’s cool. I love watching the critters and birds. I’ve been hearing a pileated too, but haven’t seen it. I rarely see them around here. I think I’ve gotten one photo in the 6+ years we’ve been here. We have two different birds in two of our bird houses, but you can’t see much of what they’re doing. We now have an abandoned sharp-shinned hawk’s nest at the top of a very high tree. I don’t know what happened. Maybe I just missed the big event. I can’t see it very well, but the hawk no longer visits the nest.

  2. How wonderful to have such an opportunity! The hummers are so small and easy to miss. It was good to see photos of one of their nests. I’ve often wondered what to look for.

    1. I know! I’m thrilled. I had no idea what the nest looked like either. I googled it when I first saw the silvery looking spot on the tree limb. She still’s working on it today.

  3. What a view you have! I loved seeing the hummingbird nest. Thank you for sharing your photos. Those fast moving little birds use so much energy even when they don’t have to worry about eggs or baby birds. It seems like a miracle that they’re able to reproduce.

    1. I am jealous! I look out my backyard to see neighbors walking down the sidewalk many times with a dog tied to a leash. We do see some birds, a fox or a coyote last night and someone called about a bobcat in our yard, but these are few and far between….. so I am still jealous! Darla, and my daughter are returning tonight from another trip down the Danube.


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