I hope you and your families are well and safe in these uncertain times.
For 27 years I've been lucky enough to run my photography business from home here in San Diego. It's been a great way to raise my son and has given me a lot of control over my work and play schedule.
In the spring of 2012, I was treated to an interesting diversion just outside our window. A hummingbird had nested in an oleander next to the back porch, at eye-level just 15 feet from the sliding glass door. So, I mounted a telephoto lens on a tripod and photographed the nest periodically during the days from April 28 - May 30, 2012. I printed a couple of favorite shots, but then quickly moved on to my regular assignment work.
Recently, I've had some time to revisit and complete this fun project. What follows is a dozen or so photos and short videos chronicling the month-long nesting experience, from egg to first flight.
It has brought me some peace in this challenging time, and I hope it does the same for you.
In the spring of 2012 this Anna's Hummingbird darted out of an oleander next to my back porch as I walked by. A walnut-sized nest caught my eye, and inside there were two eggs, no bigger than a couple of navy beans. This species of hummingbird lives mostly along the North American Pacific Coast, and into Arizona.
(Click to enlarge photos)
May 11, 2012 - New Life!
Within two weeks, the chicks have hatched.
May 14, 2012 - "Awwww & Shock!" or "Mom the Impaler" - Video
The female feeds the young by sticking her bill deep into the fledgling's mouth, regurgitating tiny insects caught in flight mixed with nectar.
(Important: To get back to the main page after video click top right x icon)
May 24, 2012 - In-Flight Refueling
The young birds are spending a lot of time preening in their now cramped quarters, and for the first time I captured them exercising their wings. So, it seems this is how at least hummingbirds learn to fly - they grab the bottom of the nest with their claws and turn the engines on. So cool!
Preening - Video
This action helps clean and reposition displaced feathers as the fledglings practice their earliest efforts to fly.
Gentleman, Start Your Engines! - Video
May 30, 2012 - A Final Portrait
It's been just over a month since I first discovered a couple of tiny eggs in a backyard nest, and already these birds have matured enough to move on. I took this "portrait" of them in the morning, and by afternoon they were gone. Later that day I caught a last glimpse of one of our little friends on a nearby fence before he buzzed away.
Please feel free to share your comments and this link if you had a good experience.
UPDATE! Oct. 2020
We continue to enjoy our hummingbirds through most of the year. While some bird species can live up to 50 years, I was surprised to learn that hummingbirds lifespan is just 3-5 years. Each year we see new birds and the territorial behavior they exhibit. This Allen's Hummingbird male perches on a plant near the feeder and swoops in whenever another bird comes in for a drink.
When they move, they are gone in a blink of an eye. I've slowed sections of this video to capture some of that movement.
J.T. MacMillan is a long-time San Diego-based photographer who got his start in metro-newspaper work and has been providing editorial, commercial, portrait and event photography services to some of San Diego’s most recognized public and private agencies for 27 years. To learn more and see other samples of our work click on the links below:
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I'm so blessed to have a new little next just 6 feet away from my remote desk - large window to just watch this whole process. I believe she laid her eggs this weekend as she is sitting in her nest more frequently now and it is solid, around the branch and all. I'm so happy my sister Molly shared this blog with me, your pix are phenomenal...and if only I had a nicer camera, but the real life watch is just amazing.
What lovely work. A beautiful eyeful for the soul just when we needed it! Thank you so much!
Amazing. Brought tears to my eyes. What a vision of spring.
This is so cool Jay! I will share it with others, it is educational and a delight to watch.
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