hummer story

deep___roots(ca9/sunset15)March 26, 2012

Several weeks ago, I shared this photo of mama hummer as she covered her nest.

This nest is only 7 feet off the ground and the branch can be pulled down, say if someone wanted to look into the nest without using a ladder to see if there were hatchlings, which is what I did last Thursday evening after work.

Yikes, there were 2 babies in there and they both tried to fly away. But they don't know how to fly yet. They were like 2 planes that had run out of gas and both made graceful little arcs down to ground. One landed on a path and one landed in some bushes. Further movement of any kind on their part did not seem to be an option. I thought, "That's it then, I've killed them."

But I thought I should attempt to get them back in the nest. So, wary of getting the human scent on them, I used a cardboard piece to corral the one on the path and lifted him up and he grabbed onto the nest...he wasn't in it, but he was close.

Now where was the other baby? I found her in the bushes and attempted the same cardboard lift. Except she jumped into my hand. So precious she was for I think this one was female, a little smaller than the first one. I placed her almost in the nest too. I couldn't do more. Of course mama hummer was flitting around during all this and my hope was she would resettle her babies into the nest so they would be warm and safe. I exited the scene and hoped for the best. I am happy to say it all worked out. These pictures were taken Sunday evening.

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So glad they are doing fine. I read somewhere that the human scent thing is a myth. You can pick them up if they fall from the nest.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 4:17PM
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wcgypsy(10 / Sunset 23)

Almost 30 years ago we lived in a two story house and the swallows built their nests just beneath the eaves. Well, one of the babies fell out, to the ground, and my son, then 9, found it and asked how we could save it. I told him that I didn't think it woule live and the human scent...yada yada, but we would put some soft grass in a shoebox and keep it in the house for the night (thinking that it would not make it through the night). The next a.m. the little critter was still alive so I took a strawberry basket and lined it with grass and placed the 'nest' in a pineapple guava tree close by, not much later, the bird fell out of this nest and I picked him up and put him back in the while thinking how useless this was. End of the story being that the Mama and Papa birds found the baby in his strawberry basket, fed and raised him and he flew My son was right and I was wrong......

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 5:46PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

It is a myth, lgteacher. Not only can they not smell, they can't taste, either. Which is why I feed my songbirds Safflower seed. It is very bitter. The birds love it and the squirrels won't eat it :-)

Patty S.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 8:26PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

I just read that as well, that it's a myth the mother abandons the babies if there is a human scent.

However, I think some birds have an extremely acute sense of smell. Vultures and road kill, for example.

I love Hummers. The babies you saved will be eating mosquitos and tiny flies in your garden soon, returning the favor you did for them. They don't just eat nectar. Lovely photos, thanks for sharing them!

Here is a link that might be useful: do birds have a sense of smell?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 8:41PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Fledglings make a mess out of things, don't they? Kestrels once nested next door, and the babies climbed out of the nest a week before they could fly. It was a nightmare trying to keep all of the neighborhood cats from eating them. We resorted to catching them at night and putting them into a shoebox in the closet until morning, then putting them back out for the parents to feed during the day. They made it, though. Disgusting little things, covered with bird poop. Mean too.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 1:32AM
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Min3 South S.F. Bay CA

vultures can not only smell dead critters, they can projectile vomit over quite a distance and very accurately. best to stay far away from them.

a hummer successfully raised her kids almost in the open in a short potted tree at a nursery near here and she didn't seem to mind all the people peering at her day after day. maybe all her visitors relieved the monotony of sitting on the eggs. min

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 10:29AM
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wcgypsy(10 / Sunset 23)

Well, I think it must take special people to rescue mean, poop-covered if kestrels are usually raised under those conditions.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 1:40PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Interesting, hoovb. So, maybe certain bird species have more developed or specialized senses of smell, then. I have always been told not to worry about touching a baby bird and putting it back in the next, as the birds just can't smell you. Maybe the can, but it doesn't scare them? I do know they don't have salivary glands like mammals, and can't taste "bitter", like a squirrel can, so that's why safflower seeds are so successful for me.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 4:51PM
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Turkey vultures have an acute sense of smell. California Condors don't. They find their food by sight. I think the black vulture also has a good sense of smell.

Most birds have poor senses of smell and some have none at all like the Great Horned Owl. They'll eat skunks. Sometimes if you smell a skunk it might not be a skunk at all, it just might be a GHO.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 5:39PM
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Min3 South S.F. Bay CA

thanks for the info, patty. i am going to invest in safflower seeds instead of sunflower seeds.

so, dis, if i smell a skunk up in a tree it is probably not a skunk. duly noted.

renee, i'd be pretty mean too if i was covered in poop and taken from my bed and put in a closet every night. min

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 6:33PM
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