Today I was on a Trip of a Drip walk in the natural area and kind of lallygagging behind the group. I was drawn off course for a moment to track a singing Peewee but ended up discovering something much more unexpected instead.
Standing there on the trail being bitten by mosquitoes, I saw two big bumblebees buzz into the leafy top of a small Maple tree. I watched them and slowly realized that my big bumblebees were actually Hummingbirds. Imagine my surprise when I realized that … in the 300 acres of natural area behind the U of M campus… I had just happened to stumbled across this tiny Hummingbird homestead:
They would leave and return frequently, not staying on the branch for more than a few moments at a time. The female would occasionally sit and shape the nest, though, picking at it with her beak and pressing herself into the cup. This is when I was able to get the best pictures of her.
They are most likely a pair of Ruby-throated hummingbirds, Eastern North America’s only breeding hummingbird. Their nests are made from thistle, dandelion, spider webs, and lichen, and are very tiny — about the size of a thimble. Ruby-throats build their nests on top of branches as opposed to in forks. They feed mostly on nectar, but will also eat small insects and spiders (which I am sure there are a lot of the area).
Here is the tree it was in – as you can see, they have chosen to nest near water in the shade, which will help keep the eggs cool:
Good luck to them!
What a lucky day!