The Circle of Life

Copyright ©2017 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Here’s the post I promised on Monday here that I would be sharing this week about a birding surprise.

After sunrise, and a little birding last Saturday Gordon, myself, and another friend went to breakfast then we headed over to another part of Don Edward’s Wildlife Refuge to check out the Anna’s Hummingbird on her nest.

I had heard from a good friend that she had had her brood of two. There were indeed two chicks in the nest, and their eyes were open!

They waited for Mama to return to the nest with food! They were so quiet. I thought they would be peeping constantly, but they didn’t.  They look too big for the nest already don’t they.  Mom must sleep on top of the nest with them smooched down into the nest to keep them warm at night.

This nest isn’t deep in the canopy either! It’s pretty exposed.

Anna's Hummingbird Chicks eyes open

When the chicks are new their Mom will leave the nest for very short periods of time. Just a minute up to 15 minutes to find food. The chicks can’t keep warm without her so she doesn’t dare leave them alone long. Once they can regulate their own temperatures and keep warm she leaves the nest to forage for food for up to 20 minutes.  This Mom would leave for 15-20 minutes, but return to do buzz or hover check several times too.

Here is the Female/Mom just returning from a food sortie.

Anna's Hummingbird Female Returns to her Brood

Two little beaks hungry and not patient anymore.

Anna's Hummingbird with Hungry Chicks

Food at last!

She eats insects and drinks nectar which she regurgitates as a liquid mixture into the open mouths of the chicks.  She’s on the go constantly hunting for food and feeding the chicks every 20 minutes! The male doesn’t help at all feeding or raising the chicks. If the male does come around the Female will chase him away b/c she finds him a threat to the chicks.

Anna's Hummingbird Feeding her Chicks

These chicks are already a couple of weeks old. At 3 weeks old they will look more like Hummingbirds, and will be testing out their wings more to get ready for flight.  Once they’re flying the Female will show them how to catch bugs, and drink nectar, and within a few days of that the chicks will fly away as adults never to return to the nest.

I can’t tell you how amazing this was to watch and photograph! It was gift!  It’s so moving, and beautiful watching her feed the chicks and knowing how dedicated she is, and how tired she must be. These images were made on March 18, 2017

I dropped by Thursday afternoon (3/23) to see them. They were still in the nest with Mama feeding them every 20 minutes. There was quite a crowd there, and I had #1 Grandson with me. He got a kick out seeing the chicks too. I didn’t break out my camera today. I was holding #1 in my arms so he could see them, but I’m hoping I can get back over once more before they fly from the nest which may be as early as a week and a half away.

For more information about Hummingbird chicks you can visit

Nikon D700| Nikkor 200-500mm| Lexar Digital Film| PS CC 2017

Have a wonderful week-end everyone!

More to come…







46 thoughts on “The Circle of Life

      1. Sorry for being so late in looking at your posts. School gets busy in spurts. Overall, school is going well. Exams are in the last two weeks of April and then I don’t have school during the summer. I am moving to Edmonton at the end of April though and am stressed about that. But I’m sure everything will work out; I just need to go with the flow and adapt to new situations. Sweet of you to ask :-).

        Of course I looked at your hummingbird posts! They are full of joy, beauty and sunshine :-).

        1. Oh my goodness that’s quite a lot on one’s plate; exams, and packing up and moving!

          How far away is Edmonton from where you are now? Isn’t that Calgary?

          I’m glad school is going well, and you do well with exams!
          Will you have to transfer schools? Or is the move because of school? NOMB really just curious.

          I’m sure summer will be here before you know it, and you’ll have all summer to settle in your new place, and hopefully you’ll find new birding places, and new birds!

          Have a wonderful Easter week-end! Whether you celebrate it or not. 🙂

          1. Edmonton is a 2.5 to 3 hour drive north of Calgary, depending on how fast one drives. So the winters will be colder. Also, the city is not known for being particularly pretty. However, my husband and I will be living in a neighbourhood that is considered pretty (close to urban nature and a cool shopping and restaurant district), so that is good! My husband is moving for work and I will be changing schools.

            And, yes, I am looking forward to discovering new birding areas! That’s always fun! Jasper National Park is about 3 hours away, so hopefully I will check it out this summer. It sounds beautiful.

            I hope you have a wonderful Easter week-end too! 🙂

      1. We are very well, thank you! During December and January we were able visit Philadelphia, Boston, Washington and New York! It was a wonderful experience!

  1. Oh my goodness! Deborah, thank you for sharing these precious pictures! I appreciate your also informing us of the mother’s love and diligence. You could write what you did and feature this singular feeding photograph on Mother’s Day. It is amazing how many sacrifices are displayed in lack of sleep, hurrying to take care of their hunger and keeping them warm, snug as bugs in their nest. ❤

    1. Oh Robin I’m so glad you like the images and appreciate how hard she works to raise those chicks!
      They’re actually getting ready to fledge if they haven’t already! I was there yesterday and will have an update on them soon! xx

      1. Oh, I always look forward to your photo shoots and visits. So glad you were able to take grandson #1 with you to hold up and see the little hummingbirds, Deborah. xo

  2. It’s difficult to realize how tiny that nest and those babies are. 🙂 Beautiful pictures! I’m glad #1 Grandson got to see them, and that he appreciated the wonder. What a good grandma, to forego pictures so you could hold the child. Good choice, IMO. 🙂

  3. It was exciting scrolling through the pictures so to witness it first hand and still take these great photos… Great work, Deborah 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Phil! I watched a lot outside of the viewfinder too. I missed a lot of good shots.

      The back story: I was having some technical difficulties with my camera on that morning. It took me quite awhile to figure out how to turn off a setting that I had somehow turned on. Or the elves came in the night and turned it on. It was setting I have only used a few times ever so I have no idea how it came to be on, but it played havoc my ISO settings, and metering!

        1. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s March and it was St. Patrick’s Day the day before…those elves were probably having some fun after too much green nectar. Or perhaps it was a Leprechaun! 🙂

  4. Wow this is so thrilling to see. What a lot of work for the tiny mama. The only time I ever came across a hummingbird nest it was right along the trail at the edge between forest and wetland, too. I could not believe how tiny it was, or how well hidden. I’d apparently been walking right past it all season and only happened to see it after it was abandoned.

    1. The nest is so small and blends right into the foliage. I have a hard time spotting it! I can understand how you missed it at first.

      It was thrilling to see the chicks. I have a new respect for the Female Hummer!:)
      Thank you so much for the comment for telling me your Hummer nest story!

      Hope you have a great week-end! xx

  5. What a wonderful find, Deborah! I love these pictures. On behalf of males, I have to extend a “what the…?” To the male of that species. I mean even I could run to the grocery store. I’m glad the mom is so capable and caring.

  6. Watching nature in action like this is a privilege. Those chicks look impossibly large for the nest, but I guess the compact size helps to retain the heat inside.
    Great photos – especially the little beaks facing skyward for more. Poor mom!

    1. It was such a privilege! It’s the first time I’ve seen Hummingbird chicks.

      It’s incredible how small her nest is isn’t it.
      This feeding must go on all day and night. Hummingbirds are amazing and strong little birds aren’t they?

      Thank you so much Joanne for the lovely comment!

      1. I consider it a rare treat when I catch sight of a hummingbird adult, so a chick would be amazing!
        Once upon a time I had a couple of bird feeders which attracted a wide variety of birds to my window – including hummers.
        With a big hunter like Theo in my life now, I can’t in good conscience have feeders anymore, so we keep binoculars at the window to watch the birds in our neighbours’ yards. It’s interesting how they seem to know not to come into our yard.

        The other day I saw a bird I’d never seen before. It was a small little bird, snowy white except for a black cap and thin stripe on his wing. It caught my attention only because Theo was watching it so intently.

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