A large ceanothus tree grows in front of my office window. It blooms all summer long and there is always a variety of bees buzzing all over it. But now, in early spring it is not in bloom and instead a small hummingbird has made a wee nest in the branches. She may have had trouble making up her mind on the ideal spot to nest as there is another nest on another ceanothus on the other side of the yard, not far away. But it appears to have been abandoned. I believe the wee madam likes this spot better because there is a feeder close by. I get to watch her comings and goings as I sit at my desk. There is a mossy ornamental plum on the boulevard, and she frequently zips over to it to pluck up a bit of moss to further enhance her little home. She sits in the nest for hours at a time, staring rather stoically out at the world.
I noticed a kerfuffle a few days ago. A young junco was close to the nest and showing an inappropriate interest and the wee hummingbird scolded the junco, diving at her and chivying her to move along. The junco outweighed the hummingbird by a lot and was easily twice her size. But the little madam was fierce and relentless, and the junco flew off in a bit of a huff, insulted to be bested by such a tiny bird. I am sure there must be tiny eggs in that nest, and I look forward to seeing what happens next!
The weather has been blustery and rain was predicted for days but only manifested yesterday. The magnolia tree is blooming and dandelions are popping up so the bees are out in force looking for pollen and early nectar.
The little madam has built her nest up bit by bit until it is high up on her chest, right under her chin, the better to keep those tiny eggs safe I’m sure. She flits back and forth to the feeder and then soars around the yard no doubt looking for real nectar and not just the fabricated sugar water in the feeder.
During the worst of the windy weather, the ceanothus tree shook and swayed. But the little madam peeked out of her nest and was unfazed by any of it. She is amazing to watch, zipping off to check out the garden and then darting back at lightening speed to slip into the nest as smooth as silk. She is a wonder!
The wee girl has now built her nest up right under her chin. In fact, it has grown so high, she sits with her head tilted slightly upwards to peek over the edge of the nest. I have to look very hard to see her, just the tip of that iridescent green tail and the top of her head and beak visible through the foliage. The ceanothus has leafed out considerably so she is perfectly camouflaged, looking like a mossy nob on the tree. She still flits about and often sits on a rose branch just below the feeder, gazing around at the garden for a moment or two. I like to imagine she has a happy look on her face. She seems so impossibly tiny but so feisty and determined, undaunted by the windy days we have had or the rain. And she slips so elegantly and quickly into her little nest, you can hardly see it happen. It’s impossible to tell what is happening inside that nest but I am waiting in anticipation for the babies to show themselves. I know they must be there!
The rosemary is blooming and the bees and the wee madam have been busy checking out the nectar. Our wee madam hummingbird was so busy yesterday, back and forth to the feeder, then to nest, then to the garden and back to the nest. The clues indicate the eggs have indeed hatched and she is feeding babies. She is back at it again today, back and forth, between the garden and nest. She must be tending newborns as I can see that she is perching on the side of the nest and peering down into it, no doubt feeding the wee ones! It’s a windy day and you can see the nest rocking back and forth. I imagine the little hummingbirds are being rocked to sleep!
Today I can see the sweetest little face just visible above the edge of the nest. It is impossibly beautiful and patient and darling, waiting for mom to come home with food, I have not seen the wee madam for some time now and it is causing me a bit of anxiety. I do hope she is ok and has not run into any problems in the big wide world of the garden. I will not rest until I have seen her return to tend to the baby or babies.
There are hummingbirds nesting all over the back garden and I can see them from the kitchen window, swooping and diving and flashing around the yard. Sometimes they zip by my head so close I impulsively duck. They seem oblivious to human presence, so caught up in finding food and feeding the little ones.
I find myself drawn to the front window frequently though, looking for the wee madam to come and feed her precious little offspring.
Much to my relief the little mama appeared a short time ago with food and love for the nestlings. She is beating a steady route from feeder to nectar and back and forth with the occasional dance around the yard, up in the air, and back to earth. Those babies should be ready to leave the nest about 28 days after hatching but alas I have no idea when they hatched so I will need to keep a close eye on them and watch for their first flight over the next couple of weeks. And then I guess it’s flying lessons and instructions on life in the garden with all it’s hazards and rewards.
The weather has grown warm and sunny. The trees are all blooming and leafing out very quickly. The little hummingbird mother races around the yard collecting nectar with the occasional stop at the feeder. She disappears over the roof as well, likely headed for the pond and a drink of water. Then she is back to the nest to feed the tiny babies. It’s hard to see how many are in the nest. Some days I think it’s only one but today I believe it may be two as I saw one bobbing up with it’s tiny mouth open but the mother seemed to be feeding another one, just out of sight. The nest is obscured by a branch and the leaves that are now providing protection from the rain and curious onlookers like the ever curious sparrows. The baby that I see the most clearly is growing quickly and it won’t be long before the little madam is encouraging it out of the nest to fly! It’s like a miracle watching these impossibly small and delicate creatures take on the world.
I checked on the nest early today as I do most mornings. A little head could be seen, sitting quietly watching for the mama. It was only a few minutes later that I caught a glimpse of the Grey Cat just out of the corner of my eye, slinking along through the garden. I thought ‘now what is that cat up to?’ Usually it zooms through the yard with a watchful eye out for the dogs who set up an uproar whenever they see it.
I was busy but checked back as I often do during the day and then I saw it! The nest was gone, just the base left clinging to the tree. I felt a little catch in my throat and ran outside. Oh no! There on the ground was the nest, torn free from the branch, no doubt due to the weight of the rapidly growing babies. And then the slinking Grey Cat made sense. The nest had fallen with the babies inside and that Cat saw them, stalked them and ate them!
It wasn’t long before the little madam came whizzing back, flew around the nest site with what I imagine was a perplexed, then a shocked and then a sinking feeling. The nest was gone! Her babies were gone! She flew way up in the air and then disappeared over the tree tops!
I am gutted for her!
One thought on “The wee madam!”
I am writing to you because often your words give me time to escape from my disability for a breath of fresh air and a smile. Thank you for your sharing your beautiful and articulate observations. I wish you peace and light and many more wonderful moments to immortalize.
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