Mission: To promote the appreciation of wildlife and increase harmony between humanity and nature.

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Saturday, August 1, 2015

From Zero to Zip

A female Anna's hummingbird can be distinguished from the male by the limited iridescence on her neck. Since only the female sits on the nest, that too is a clue to her gender.

A male's facial coloring is more comprehensive.

Given the metabolic speed of a hummingbird, sitting on eggs for a couple weeks must seem like forever.

Occasionally, the mother stretches her wings and leaves to find some food, but without a mate to warm the eggs she must hurry back. Eventually the eggs hatch, and then suddenly it's time for non-stop food deliveries.

This May sighting of young hummingbirds was a one way venture. Since their eyes are not yet open, they cannot see a thing. They must trust their mother completely. Her beak reaches surprisingly deep into their mouths. Her head bobs rapidly as she feeds them. The speed, angle and motion reminds me of a sewing machine. 

At a nearby nest we see young birds that are a week or two older. Their beaks are no longer yellow. 

Their eyes are functional as they search the skies for their mother. They search to the left...

...and they search to the right. I remember thinking their beaks look like hands on a clock. 

When the mother returns we can see that their beaks are only half grown. 

The mother provides food with full in-depth delivery. There is nothing wasted and no need for bibs.

As they grow, the nest seems to be bursting at the seams.

There are occasionally ruffled feathers.

Despite the confinement they must find space to exercise their wings as they prepare to leave the nest.

Once the young birds take flight I am sure they must be slower than their mother, but I cannot see any difference in speed. 

Sometimes they stop to rest for a moment. This looks like a young male whose iridescence is just starting to fill in. His beak has not yet reached its full length.

It is amazing that in about three weeks, hummingbirds can go from sightless immobile creatures, to moving faster than the eye can track. It may not be zero to sixty in six seconds, but they sure seem to go from zero to zip.

So far, the only way I have been able to catch hummingbirds in motion is to wait until they slow down to feed.

This photo, along with more than a dozen other framed bird photos will be part of an exhibit at the Fuel Coffee shop in Montlake during the month of August. The exhibit is entitled, "Where Nature Lives". All of the photos are from western Washington and all but two are from around Union Bay. You may enjoy the challenge of picking out our local birds.

I will be there from 1 to 4 p.m. tomorrow, Sunday the 2nd, if you would like to stop by and discuss birds, nature or photography. I hope to see you there.

Here are the details:

Fuel Coffee - Montlake
2300 24 Ave E
Seattle, WA 98112

  • Mon-Fri: 6 am - 6 pm
  • Sat-Sun: 7 am - 6 pm
The photos will be for sale on a first come, first served basis. However, they need to remain part of the exhibit until the end of the month. Thank you for your patience.

Have a great day on Union Bay...where nature lives in the city!



  1. Another incredible series, Larry. Thanks so much for sharing these! Seeing hummingbird nestlings is still on my "Life Wish List" - what a joy to see these photos!

    1. Thank you! It was on my list for this spring and these were my first two active nests. It was a truly a delight to watch the process!