If you are looking for a different twist to hummingbird watching, why not try offering female ruby-throated hummingbirds nesting material? 

       As anybody that has ever tried to locate a hummingbird knows, it is next to impossible to find one.  Most of the folks fortunate enough to find a hummingbird nest do so accidentally.  As a result, most hummingbird fanciers resign themselves to the reality that they will probably never see one of these remarkable creations in the wild. 

       However, would it not be great to at least see a female hummingbird gathering material for her nest?  I know a couple that several times witnessed hummers gathering nesting material they have provided the birds.

       There are a couple of ways that you can do the same. One way is to buy something called a hummingbird nesting ball. This is a ball fashioned from grapevines.  It contains cotton, and various other natural plant fibers.  You can also offer nesting material in a wire suet feeder.  Fill the wire cage with cotton (not cotton balls), plant down and the like. Hang either device in a spot frequented by hummingbirds (e.g. near a hummingbird feeder).  Then sit back and watch.  If you are lucky, you just might spot a female pinch off some fibers and fly away to incorporate in her nest.

       Regardless of whether you buy a hummingbird nesting ball, or create your own, make sure it contains only natural fibers. Artificial fibers may be chemically treated or retain water.

       If you spot a hummingbird gathering nesting material, watch where it goes.  Since you know she is flying toward her nest, her flight just might lead to her nesting site. If you lose track of the bird, stand a short distance away from where it vanished and wait.  Move to that location and when the bird flies by again on its flight back to its nest, follow the bird until it once more disappears.  Repeat this process until you finally spot the nest.

       I am certain that the ruby-throated hummingbirds nesting in or near our yards have few problems find the plant down, bud scales, lichens and spider silk they need to create a nest. However, watching a hummingbird collect nesting material we provide adds a new dimension to hummingbird watching.  


    • Anonymous,

      I have already had a strand of cotton taken out of the hummingbird ball and hair from a suet feeder was full of hair from a Husky. All this activity and the hummers have yet to return.


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