BASICS: "Hummingbirds.....where is the person, I ask, who, on observing this glittering fragment of the rainbow, would not pause, admire, and turn his mind with reverence..." (J. J. Audubon).
This is a blog about my summer life at the Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary, at my winter garden, Calypso, in the Bahamas, and aspects of life in general.
This private sanctuary is now permanently closed to the general public, as a result of a lawsuit brought by a neighbor. Only my friends and personal guests may visit (

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

chicks have fledged!

Yesterday evening both chicks were still in the nest, though getting bigger, as my video posted this morning showed. But today at 5 pm the nest was empty. I closely scrutinized the nest tree, and was able to spot both youngsters, perched on separate twigs quite a bit higher than the nest (which is about 6 feet off the ground. I observed Mme W feeding one of them on 2 occasions and was able to film the brief feeding. The fledgelings were making no attempt yet to feed themselves, they were basically just sitting and waiting for the mom. But they occasionally flew to a different branch, in the same tree or a close neighbor. The first video below shows one of the youngsters perching quietly, the second shows a feeding episode.

Tomorrow they will become more adventurous and independent, and difficult to monitor.
It took about 2 weeks from hatching to fledging. Amazing!

The third video shows initially the 2 offspring of Mme W, who fledged from the nest today. One is perched to the left of the view (this is the oine features in the other 2 videos) and the other is initially perched on the right side of the view (different branches of the same tree that holds the  now empty nest. Very quickly the one on the right starts to fly around - you can see the movement and then trace back to where she was initially perched. Toward the end of the movie I zoom out and move the viewpoint to show the location of the nest, in the same tree.

big chicks

The chicks are now much bigger, more active and more resembling a proper hummingbird - but still an ugly duckling.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Still feeding her ravenous chicks; Hummingbirds are on their way to Long Island!

The chicks completely fill the nest now and their short black beaks stick out over the rim. Mme W spends almost all her time away from the nest hunting insects, and only returns, briefly, every quarter hour to feed her ravenous offspring. In a few days they might fledge

it's still rather early to put up feeders on Long Island . The best way to time it is to follow Lanny Chamber's migration map at
The front of the migrating wave has already reached North Carolina, and I expect it will reach Long Island around mid-april. Bear in mind that these are the initial arrivals - the main wave is several days later. The migration has been getting steadily earlier over the last 20 years as global warming starts to bite.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Mme W continues to feed her chicks

The chicks are much bigger now - almost filling the nest. Mme W continues to feed them a diet of insects mixed with nectar,  providing the protein needed by the growing babies. This video shows her feeding them this saturday morning (mar 19), then as usual sitting on them. There was already quite a bit of south wind which has now further increased. A cold front is approaching from the north, always preceded by a humid south wind. I'm hoping the front will bring some rain - it has not rained since the storms in early january which wrecked Mme W's first nest.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Better Feeding Video

Early this morning the wind was calmer and the lighting good. She lands on the edge of the nest and starts feeding her chicks - you can see one them eagerly pushing his beak upwards. Then she sits on them. Then I zoom out to show the branch, with the house behind.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The babies

It's been too windy yesterday and today to properly film the nest - it's been moving around too much, though seems in no danger of falling. However I did attempt to film the babies inside the nest - they almost look like black beetles. Because I have to hold the branch with 1 hand and the camera with the other, I had to use automatic focus, which stubbornly focuses on the background. So the nest interior is rather blurred. However you can see the 2 black beetles poking up their small yellow bills, hoping for food. You can also see my rather dirty thumb near the nest, which gives you an idea of size.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Mme W's eggs have hatched!

At the very beginning of the clip Mme W arrives at the nest and perches on the edge. This was an immediate cue that she would be feeding the newly-hatched babies - previously she would not land on the edge but directly on the nest interior. Indeed, she immediately starts feeding them, probing delicately into their tiny open mouths. Then she settles down onto them. Later in the clip I zoom out to show the nest branch, and then zoom out even more to show more of the gumbo limbo tree (under which I'm standing) with behind it a large silver-top palmetto, and behind that the house we call "SeaStar", which is quite close to the nest. You are looking at the back of "SeaStar"; the front faces the ocean (you can hear the waves on the soundtrack), towards the north. "SeaStar" is not the main house here (it only has one bedroom), which is called "WoodStar" (in honor of the Woodstar hummingbird). We usually live in WoodStar, but sometimes, during the visits of family and friends, we move either to "SeaStar" or to "MorningStar" (the house closest to the ocean, and also the smallest of the 3 houses at Calypso). Each has its own character (and defects!). You can see flowering red bougainvillea climbing up an arbor which runs along the back of SeaStar, and also a large clump of firecracker, a hummingbird favorite. You can also see the top edge of a south-facing wicker chair, which I also use for viewing the nest. Then at the end I zoom back in, to show the nest again. There's a strong northeast wind today, but "SeaStar" shelters the nest from this wind.
We have friends from England staying in MorningStar, and this afternoon I saw them near the nest. They had been observing Mme since they arrived several days ago. But now they worriedly told me that the nest was gone! I was appalled - surely not another disaster had befallen Mme W!
But then I realized that they were looking at the wrong branch - the nest is so inconspicuous that they could not spot it, despite the fact they had previously observed it on several occasions.
Unfortunately the video shows Mme W's back, which partly obscures the feeding process. I'll try to get a better film tomorrow.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Still incubating

Mme W is still incubating her eggs. During the night we got some rain (perhaps even a half inch) - the first in almost 3 months (it's now the dry season). But as you can see the nest looks fine. The weather looks excellent for the next 10 days. 
At the end of the clip she leaves the nest - here is a 4X slo mo version of the same clip.