Selfie Sticks and Hummingbird Nests

January 7, 2015

We found another hummingbird nest in the Nature Gardens! On December 28th Miguel Ordeñana, Museum Citizen Science Coordinator, found an Allen's Hummingbird, Selasphorus sasin, nest in our cork oak tree.

Female Allen's Hummingbird, photo courtesy of Felipe Lepe. As you can see she's (only female hummingbirds build nests and care for the young) sitting pretty in her nest, but are there any eggs? Over the last few weeks we've observed her sitting in the nest for extended periods of time. This behavior led us all to believe that there were definitely eggs in there. But, we wanted to be sure. As luck would have it, I received a late Christmas present last night–a selfie stick. It was sort of a joke gift, I am a vocal selfie stick hater! I mean, I just can't imagine using one without feeling like a total idiot! However, upon opening this metal and plastic item made in China, my mind immediately went to the hummingbird nest. Would it be long enough to help me see inside, to find out how many eggs were in there? This was something I wouldn't feel like an idiot doing. First thing this morning, I excitedly walk over to the cork oak and telescope my selfie stick out to its maximum length. I get my remote ready, but the thing just wasn't long enough! I trudge back into the Museum, retrieve a step ladder and head back out.

In my opinion this is the ONLY valid use of a selfie stick, notice how my face is NOT in the shot! As I get back to the nest the mother hummingbird was nowhere to be seen. I erect the ladder, slowly wobble upto the top step and hold my selfie stick aloft. It's really hard to keep a long pole with a smartphone steady, but after a few seconds I get a number of shots. I carefully lower my monopod device and look at the pictures. Right there, in the heart of her nest sat two tiny and perfect eggs! Soon after this the mother returned to the nest, and began incubating the eggs again. Although a bit blurry, the image also gives a great view of the fluffy inner lining of the nest. This soft, inner sanctum in comprised of varying natural materials collected by the mother and includes spider webs. That's right, hummingbirds use spider webs to line their nests so they can stretch over time. As the eggs hatch and the two nestlings grow, the nest becomes, as you can imagine rather full. The spider webs help the nest to stretch with the babies! Over the coming weeks (eggs take about three weeks to hatch and the young take just over another three weeks to leave the nest), we'll be keeping a careful eye on this nest. We'll keep you posted and let you know if the eggs hatch successfully, because who doesn't like cute little baby birds? In the meantime, I hope that you, just like me, have a warm fuzzy feeling right next to that selfie stick loathing! p.s. Please feel free to share any nature related #selfiestickhacks #naturespy!  

(Posted by: Lila Higgins)

1 Comment

This is wonderful. I've been a volunteer at the Natural History Museum for about 6 months, and this is one of the highlights of my experience there. I live in downtown Los Angeles and I figure that there about 4 dozen hummingbirds who visit my 5th-floor little garden and hummingbird feeders every day. it's been such a joy to see this mother caring for her babies.

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