Hummingbird Eggs: Everything You Need to Know

A pair of hummingbird eggs in a nest

Undoubtedly delicate and tiny, hummingbird eggs are the starting point for one of nature’s most agile fliers. Despite their small size, they are packed with potential, ready to transform into dazzling hummingbirds.

Further, these eggs are eagerly anticipated by birdwatchers and nature lovers alike. After all, the process of watching a hummingbird egg hatch is both fascinating and exciting to witness.

Here, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about hummingbird eggs. We will also discuss the frequency with which hummingbirds lay eggs, how many they lay at once, and more. So, make sure to read until the end!

What Do Hummingbird Eggs Look Like?

Two hummingbird eggs nestled in a moss covered nest

Generally speaking, hummingbird eggs are elliptical, which resembles miniature ovals. Their tiny size is proportionate to one of the smallest bird species, making them among the tiniest bird eggs found in nature.

The rounded shape of hummingbird eggs is not just a random feature. According to the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, such eggs can hold more content than their pointier peers and tend to have firmer shells.

What Color Are Hummingbird Eggs?

Hummingbird eggs are known for their simplicity and small size. They are pure white, without any patterns or distinct coloration. This plain appearance helps them blend into the nest environment.

Fun Fact: Did you know that hummingbird eggs are white because they nest in safe places? Yet, those in riskier nests have evolved to lay dark, speckled eggs for better camouflage, as per a 2006 study.

How Big Are Hummingbird Eggs?

A hummingbird egg and a hatchling in a small nest

Despite the vast diversity of around 373 species, hummingbird eggs are uniformly tiny. In fact, no hummingbird egg tips the scale at more than a gram, which is roughly the weight of a standard paperclip.

In terms of size, such eggs typically measure between 0.5 and 0.8 inches. They are comparable in size to small peas or jelly beans, showcasing just how tiny hummingbirds and their offspring are. 

When identifying hummingbird eggs, consider the species. The Giant Hummingbird, which is about the length of a penny, produces the largest eggs. Meanwhile, the Bee Hummingbird lays the smallest eggs.

How Many Eggs Do Hummingbirds Lay at Once?

Hummingbirds are known for laying small clutches, typically consisting of just two eggs. These eggs are laid one at a time, with a gap of one to two days between each.

In this video, a female Allen’s hummingbird is observed laying two eggs:

Watch Hummingbird Lay Two Eggs: Emerald is Back!

One of the most interesting aspects of hummingbird behavior is that females are almost entirely responsible for incubation duties.

Unlike many bird species where both parents share the task, hummingbird mothers take on this role solo.

I once had the privilege of observing a hummingbird nesting site. A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird had built a tiny cup of a nest in the crook of an oak tree.

For two weeks — while the male fluttered nearby, she alone incubated her two pea-sized eggs. She left the nest only briefly to snatch a few gnats or sip sugar water before settling back over her unhatched offspring.

How Many Eggs Does a Hummingbird Lay Per Year?

A hummingbird chick and egg sharing a nest

In most instances, hummingbirds can produce up to three broods per year. Each of those broods averages 3 to 9 eggs, which shows that the birds’ strategy is to have small but frequent families.

How Often Do Hummingbirds Lay Eggs?

Hummingbirds typically lay eggs 1 to 3 times a year, varying by species. This frequency ensures a steady growth of their populations.

Specifically, Allen’s Hummingbirds often produce 2 to 3 broods annually. They make a balance between survival and nurturing their young according to their environment.

When Do Hummingbirds Lay Eggs?

Two newborn hummingbird chicks lying in a straw nest

The frequency at which hummingbirds lay eggs varies significantly among species. Basically, each species follows its unique breeding calendar, influenced by environmental factors and migratory patterns.

For instance, Costa’s Hummingbirds typically lay eggs from February to June, aligning their breeding season with the availability of food and favorable weather.

In contrast, Rufous Hummingbirds, known for their striking appearance, lay eggs later in the year, from April to July.

Meanwhile, non-migratory hummingbirds have a broader laying window than migratory ones: they lay eggs from October to June. This reflects their stable living conditions, which in turn enables a longer breeding season.

Where Do Hummingbirds Build Their Nests for Eggs?

Hummingbirds commonly prefer slender, usually drooping branches for their nests. These branches are commonly found in deciduous trees, such as birches, oaks, hornbeams, hackberries, and pines.

Then, the nests are usually positioned 10 to 40 feet above the ground, a height that offers protection from land predators and environmental elements.

However, note that hummingbirds are also known for their adaptability. Occasionally, they adjust to urban environments by building nests on unconventional structures like wires, loops of chains, and extension cords.

Fun Fact: Hummingbirds are surprisingly crafty planners when it comes to nest-building. They are known to construct their nests near hawk territories, which deters other small birds that might raid them.

How Long Do Hummingbird Eggs Take to Hatch?

Adult hummingbird feeding its chick in the nest

Hummingbird eggs take between 11 and 18 days to hatch, a period during which the mother maintains the nest temperature at a cozy 96°F. This consistent warmth is crucial for the development of the chicks inside the eggs.

Interestingly, even though the eggs are laid on different days, they hatch simultaneously.

This synchronization ensures that the hatchlings start their growth journey together, allowing the mother to care for her newborns efficiently.

What Happens After Hummingbird Eggs Hatch?

Once hummingbird eggs hatch, tiny, featherless chicks emerge. These newborns are skinny and vulnerable, entirely dependent on their mother for survival.

In particular, for the first 1 to 2 weeks, the mother hummingbird is fully committed to their care. She feeds them regurgitated bugs and nectar, providing the essential nutrients for their rapid growth.

During this period, she also plays a vital role in protecting them from predators and harsh weather conditions.

As the chicks grow, they develop pinfeathers, a sign of maturing plumage. Once these feathers sprout, the young hummingbirds can regulate their body temperature unassisted.

At this point, the mother begins to stay away more, encouraging her offspring to become more self-sufficient and preparing them for eventual independence.

Do Hummingbirds Lay Eggs in the Same Place Every Year?

Hummingbird nest with two eggs

Hummingbirds exhibit loyalty to their preferred nesting areas; they return to them every year. Yet, keep in mind that they don’t reuse the exact same spot for building new nests.

Generally, their nests are designed for single use, meaning female hummingbirds must construct a new nest annually.

To be specific, they choose different trees or bushes for this purpose, but these new locations are often within the same general area as their previous nests.

This nesting strategy balances the benefits of familiar surroundings with the necessity of fresh, secure locations for raising their young.

Do Hummingbirds Leave Their Eggs?

When hummingbirds leave their eggs or hatchlings, it is usually for short periods of time and for reasons such as finding food or preening.

These brief absences are normal and necessary for the mother’s survival and ability to care for her young. However, if a hummingbird is away from her nest for an extended period, it could indicate a problem.

Long absences might suggest that something unfortunate has happened to the mother, leaving the eggs or hatchlings vulnerable.

What to Do If You Find a Hummingbird Egg

Human finger pointing to a single hummingbird egg

Discovering a hummingbird egg is a rare treat. After all, these tiny ovals are often found lodged in hidden nests. Yet, it’s vital to know the right steps to take to ensure the egg’s safety and the best chance for the chick’s survival.

Here are four important guidelines to follow if you find a hummingbird egg:

  • Observe from a distance first: Keep a respectful distance from the hummingbird egg to avoid disturbing it or its natural environment. Monitoring from afar can help determine if the mother is returning to the nest.
  • Do not immediately touch or move the egg: It’s crucial to avoid handling or moving a hummingbird egg. Note that human scent or interference can discourage the mother from returning to the nest.
  • Contact a wildlife expert: Reach out to local wildlife authorities or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for guidance. They have the expertise and permits required for handling and caring for hummingbird eggs.
  • Create a safe environment: If the hummingbird egg is in a vulnerable spot, consider setting up a small barrier to keep pets and children away. Yet, ensure that this barrier is not too close to the egg and does not prevent the mother bird from accessing it.

As you can see, finding a hummingbird egg requires careful consideration and respect for wildlife. So, always prioritize the well-being of the egg and consult professionals if you’re unsure of the next steps.

What are your thoughts about hummingbird eggs? Have you ever seen one up close? Share your opinions or experiences in the comments! Also, please feel free to ask any questions you may have below.

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