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 (

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Nest at Calypso

There are 3 cottages at our winter property "Calypso" on the island of Eleuthera. Because some renovation work is being done on the main cottage (which we call "Woodstar", after the name of the local endemic hummingbird, the Bahama Woodstar, Calliphlox evelynae), we are initially staying in "SeaStar", which sits on a hill overlooking the ocean through a grove of magnificent coconut palms (see the picture in my previous post at this blog).
Just outside the southeast corner of this cottage sits a large tropical almond tree (Terminalia catappa). Actually when we bought the property 25 years ago, this same tree (along with several other notably large trees) had been recently cut down.  However when we arrived a few sprouts were growing from the cut trunk base; I removed all but one of these, and the remaining sprout (then only a couple of feet long and less than the width of a pinkie) has grown to immense size.
I sometimes sit in the shade of this tree overlooking the front garden, since there's usually a cool breeze coming off the ocean, and yesterday I noticed a hummingbird buzzing around this area. Closer observation revealed that she had a nest at the tip of  the northern-most and lowest branch of this tree, about 10 feet off the ground. Following an earlier suggestion by Donna DeSousa, I'm calling this little lady "Thumbelina" (or perhaps sometimes just Thumb, for short). She appeared to be putting the finishing touches to the outside of this nest (see the first video below). I get a reasonable view of this nest from my chair,  although the nest is almost hidden by the large leaves of the tree. I can also view the nest from at least 2 other angles, including from the front porch of "Seastar" (though I have to climb on top of the low wall that surrounds this porch).
You can see that the nest is built at the end of the branch, but incorporates the start of several small twiglets. The branch slopes down away from the tree trunk, as is typical for hummingbird nest (I believe to better shed water).
Unfortunately tomorrow morning a "cold front' will arrive from the U.S. bringing rain and a north wind ( predicted  a low of 66 degrees), and I anticipate this long branch will be whipping around in a 20 mph wind (it's completely exposed in this direction - probably the first test of her nest building skills!
The tropical almond is a deciduous tree, completely losing its leaves in the dry season, which is just starting. If this happens before the chicks fledge, in about 5 weeks, they will be baking in the sun, which can be fierce even in the winter.

 Although our internet/phone connection has been repaired, it's very slow, and it takes hours to upload these videos. But I will gradually add the clips I filmed yesterday to this post, and tomorrow I will add some I shot today, from a somewhat better vantage point.
We also took our first swim today. The ocean is quite pleasant - about the same temperature as Long Island Sound at the height of summer.

In the video below, Thumbelina, the female Bahama Woodstar hummingbird, puts the finishing touches to her new nest in a Tropical Almond tree at Calypso, our winter place in the Bahamas. At the start of the video she arrives near the nest, and briefly hovers. She then sits on the nest and as the camera zooms in one can see that she carries in her bill a tiny brown wisp of something which she carefully adds to the outside of the nest. This wisps are for camouflage rather than decoration.

In the next clip the camera zooms out to show the lawn rolling down to the Atlantic Ocean in front of "SeaStar" and then swings up and round to show the almond tree that hosts the nest. 


The last clip I filmed on dec 28 (below) shows the nest (empty because Thumbelina is away feeding or searching for further nesting material)  from a different angle. The camera zooms out to reveal our cottage "SeaStar". You can see that the nest is located about 12 feet away from the eastern edge of the front patio which overlooks the ocean. If I climb up on the low wall around this patio, and stand immediately next to the corner of the house (near the pink shutter to the left of the scene) I get a clear, though slightly precarious view of the nest from a third angle.

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