Friday, July 27, 2012

Calliope's Hummingbird Chicks Have Fledged!

July 19th- The chicks are eighteen days old today and after having been gone for two days I was excited to see the presence of flight feathers. Over their head and back they are that brown w/red tipped color, but also have a greenish tinge now. The feathers on their wings are longer and black, there are also solid white feathers toward the back of their wings and tail. Their little beaks are mostly black now with some yellow at the base. Their chins are solid white in color.

July 20th-  I checked on the chicks right before a thunderstorm hit Mazama and the Basecamp. The chicks were sitting close together. There was generally no change in their appearance between day 18 and 19.

July 21st- The chicks are twenty days old today, the number of days predicted for a Calliope's hummingbird to fledge.. which sure enough was right on! I checked on them this morning to find that they had survived the wind and rain of the storm in the protected foliage of the forest. Both chicks woke up when I arrived, they also appeared to be much greener in color. I took a few pictures, and as I turned to leaved both chicks flew out of the nest. I was able to turn around and see one of them fly up into a neighboring tree!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hummingbird Update!

 Remember these tiny little Calliope's hummingbird hatchlings? 

Thursday July 12th, 2012
Today the first hatched chick is twelve days old, and the second chick is eleven days old. The chicks are much larger, and definitely fill up the whole nest. Their feathers are short, even in length and distribution. The feathers are dark brown with white tips. Their orange beaks have elongated but are not as long as a mature hummingbird's. They were nestled in the nest facing the same direction, and breathing very fast but probably normal for a hummingbird.

Sunday July 15th, 2012
Today the chicks are fifteen and fourteen days old. The weather is dynamic today, with some thunder, wind, and sun. Amazingly, the big leaf maple branch that is carrying the hummingbird nest is very reliable, the chicks do not seemed phased. The chicks eyes were open for the first time in my observations which was awesome to see, they are looking around and blinking a lot, also drifting in and out of sleep. Their beaks have definitely developed into longer (approx. 1.5 cm), thinner, and stronger beaks. The beak coloring is now red/orange at the base with yellow edges; the tip is black.

As far as feather coloring and texture goes, the chicks have short, white, feathers on their chins and also slightly above the beak. From the top of their head and covering their back the feathers are a mixture of some solid white feathers and some brown feathers with reddish tips. These feathers are short and smooth and even in length. They are less evenly distributed than the previous observation. They also still have light brown downy feathers that stick up along their backs. These chicks should fledge in about five days!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Calliope Hummingbirds- Daily observations on a mother and her chicks!

On Friday June 29th at eleven a.m. Amelia, Emmet, Kim, Mica and I walked down the trail to the river a short ways to a hummingbird nest that Amelia had found earlier in the day. Carefully assembled on a thin, drooping, leafy branch about six feet above the ground was the tiny nest. It was a small and cup shaped, about five inches in length. Hummingbird nests are made by the female from materials like cotton from cottonwood trees strewn together by spiderwebs which is really cool. On top of the nest the female arranges lichen, possibly for camouflage. When we came to the nest the mom hummingbird was sitting on it. As we took a step closer she flew away with the typical whirring noise that hummingbirds make. Now we were able to look inside the nest to find that there were two, tiny, white, elliptical shaped eggs! Hummingbirds lay about two eggs 1-3 days apart. Amelia had seen only one egg the day before so the second one must have been laid today.

Two days later on Sunday July 1st one of the chicks hatched! This time Amelia, Emmet and I took a ladder to the area and waited until the mom flew away so we could easily peek into the nest. Amelia was the first to see the baby hummingbird and was so excited. Sure enough, when Emmet and I looked we found a little purplish colored chick with a few crumpled feathers sticking out.

The next afternoon on Monday July 2nd, Kim and I took our cameras down to photograph the chick but the mom stayed on the nest the whole time so we tried not to disturb her and left. Around seven p.m. Amelia and I tried to see the chicks one more time and this time the mom wasn't on the nest! We set up our ladder to look into the nest and found two chicks. The babies had their eyes closed and still only a few feathers. I took a picture of them and the broken egg shells left over in the nest. Later that night we brought Steve and Emmet down to see the chicks too.

On Tuesday July 3rd, day three for the first hatchling and day two for the second, the mom was sitting on the nest when I arrived to see them. She flew away though and I was able to see the chicks. Today both of them were moving their bodies and heads while opening their short orange beaks too! Their eyes also appeared larger and rounder today. I left shortly after looking at them so the mom could come back as soon as possible.

Facts about Calliope Hummingbirds:

  • Scientific Name: Stellula calliope. The Calliope Hummingbird is distinct enough to have its own genera.
  • Habitat: Coniferous mountains, meadows, forested hillsides
  • Breeding Season: Mid-May to August, they are single-brooded.
  • Eggs: Usually 2 elliptical or sub elliptical, white, 12x8 mm eggs.
  • Incubation: Only the female incubates and later cares for her offspring. Incubation usually lasts 15-18 days. 
  • Nestling: Altricial
  • Nestling period: Brooded and fed regurgitated nectar for 11-12 days. Fed arthropods delivered by the female until they reach 21-23 days when they will become fledglings. 
  • Conservation: Little is known about many hummingbird populations because they are difficult to study. The only species thought to be in decline may be the Rufous Hummingbird due to some habitat loss. Habitat loss in Mexico and Central America is a potential threat to hummingbirds. 
  • Hummingbird Fun Fact: A hummingbirds heart rate is 1250 beats per minute while in flight!
Works Cited:
Sibley, David. The Sibley Guide to Birds. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000. Print.