Two hummingbird fledglings, from video by Sheri Watson. Hummingbirds usually have 2 chicks a season.
It's spring, so you may not find too many hummers at your feeders. They're getting nourishment from the nectar-plenty flowers in your gardens. When the going gets tough and the summer starts to sizzle, they will be back to your backyard feeding stations... don't worry.
Hummingbird Nesting Behavior
As the weather gets warmer, hummers that fly south for the winter come back to their summer homes up north to mate. Hummingbirds are super mothers, but males generally take off right after mating. (No, males are not monogamous.) The females build nests during the next 5-7 days after mating, lay their eggs, hatch them, and feed and protect their chicks until the chicks take off on their own, usually 22-25 days after hatching. The whole period - from mating until her chicks leave the nest - usually takes about three months and then, all of a sudden, you'll start seeing young hummers at your feeders with adult males and females.
So keep the feeders outside, even on slow days, because if they are removed for a time, the birds might go elsewhere. Also, if you live in the southern parts of the U.S., you're likely to see hummer babies more often during the year.
Here is a recipe for Hummingbird Nectar
One part granulated sugar to four parts water.
Boil the water, remove from the heat, and mix in the sugar.
Let cool and then poor into a container and close tight.
Keep the container in a cool room or refrigerate.
Aside from providing nectar for hummingbirds in special feeders, you can attract hummers by providing nest building materials. Duncraft, which has nearly everything humans can provide for their outdoor birds, has a special Hummer Helper Nesting Cage for this purpose, and hummers really go for it!
The Nesting Cage has a modest presence, but visit the Hummer Helper Nesting Cage link and watch the short video of three hummers collecting the cotton from the cage, so you can see how the birds build their nests. Below are a few stills from the video.
Hummer Helper Nesting Cage - 3 hummers collect cotton fibers
A hummer's nest is very small, as you can see below. It's generally longer than it is wide, and is packed with small twigs, woodland fibers, and material fibers - whatever the hummer mom resourcefully finds in her environment. She wants the nest to be very sturdy, soft, and dry for her chicks, so soft cotton fiber is an ideal material to provide for her. Don't be surprised if other birds partake of the cotton fibers too. They all love to keep their kiddos warm and dry.
Mother hummer will find thin fibers from spider and cob webs to sew the materials together, making the nest sturdy. See how resourceful she is?
Hummers use spider webbing to sew nesting materials together. via
After four or five days, when the nest has been built, the mother hummer is ready to lay her eggs.
These are really sweet 'cotton cages' if you want cotton fiber holders that are more decorative: the Grapevine Globes come in a set of three.
Grapevine Globes, cotton fiber holders
For those who really want to spoil your neighborhood hummingbirds, you can even offer them a man-made nesting base: the Hummingbird House (set of two).
Attached to metal nesting frames, the design of the Hummingbird House is made to resemble the crooks and corners of tree branches where hummers generally build their nests.
You would likely attach these near your hummingbird feeders so the birds could find and identify them easily.
Hummers are fun birds to observe and offering them a supply of ready nesting materials makes them even more at home at your home.