Much To Our Pleasant Surprise

It was on several occasions that we’d seen an adult hummingbird hovering among the lower leaves and branches of the fig tree that grows over the backyard patio. Seemingly on the search for some food, I would wonder what the poor bird must be thinking because there’s literally nothing among the tree’s broad green leaves, winding branches and ever-unripening figs for it to forage upon.

Then today our friend Cybele dropped by to pick up some candy we brought back for her from Italy and sure enough while the three of us are sitting at the patio table the hummingbird appears and goes through the now familiar motions of moving about the fig’s branches. Just as I’m wondering openly as to what could be the bird’s problem, Cybele spots the root cause of it all: a tiny nest with two hummingbird chicks who by this stage are as close as possible to outgrowing their close quarters.

I felt like such a doofus. Here I’ve been in the direct presence of such a miniscule marvel of nature and instead of taking a closer look I just wrote it off as a dumb hummingbird not knowing any better than to look for food in a fig tree.

Who’s the dummy?

But better late than never and I’m at least satisfied that Cybele’s sharp eye allowed me to grab some snaps of the two chicks who seem only a matter of days from flying and were well-versed in keeping their calm and quiet in the midst of such an intrusion (click to enlarge):


In terms of scale, the nest and the chicks could fit in the palm of my hand. With room left over. And there’s a couple more pictures here on Flickr.

UPDATED (6/3): Not a moment too soon. This morning after the discovery of the chicks I went out back to survey any sonic damage from and aftermath of the neighbor’s noisy party last night when low and behold on the patio floor below the nest I spotted one of the chicks who must have made a recent attempt at flight. I probably shouldn’t have intervened but I did in picking up the Hershey’s Kiss-sized creature whereupon I was successful in depositing it back in its home. But of course, that spooked the larger and more flight-ready of the two chicks who then went on its inaugural launch that ended when it touched down on the ground about 12 feet away. In trying to pick it up there it took off again and made it about another 12 feet where I attempted a second get and then it took off again until it ended up clinging to the base of the palm tree where it was too fatigued to fly anymore and I was able to cup it in my palms and return it back to the nest where the mom hummingbird made her perturbed presence known by zipping around my head and hovering close enough to my ears that I could hear the thrumming beat of her wings… a marvelously unnerving sound that comes off as if the world’s largest and angriest bumblebee is about plant its stinger into your temple.

We’re keeping the cats in today. And maybe tomorrow, too. And whether I intruded unnecessarily or intervened successfully all seems well in the aftermath and  I’m just buzzing about having held baby hummingbirds in my hands.