The upraised beaks of two hummingbird chicks are seen protruding from their tiny nest of lichen in this photo taken by John S. Farnsworth, aka Neighbor John the Mad Birder.
THESE TROUBLED TIMES are lightened for us by the wonders of nature, and the continued delight of getting better acquainted with birds as they migrate here and back again, build nests and raise offspring.
Having a next-door neighbor who is such an authority on birds adds to our enjoyment and education. Neighbor John the Mad Birder, as you may have come to know him in these columns, is John S. Farnsworth PhD, an emeritus professor in environmental studies and sciences from California’s Santa Clara University, and a member of the board of Seattle Audubon. John and his wife, Carol Farnsworth, relocated to Center Island about the same time we did.
From their window, Carol recently spotted a hummingbird nest on a limb, maybe eight feet off the ground, of one of the evergreens between our cabins. John shared this photo he captured of a parent and two hatchlings. He also let us get a close-up look through his spotting scope.
The nest is a marvelous construction of lichen lined with moss and spider-web silk to make it soft and cozy.
These are Anna’s Hummingbirds (Calypte anna), among the most common hummers on the West Coast. Through the scope, I saw one of the chicks experiment with poking its long tongue out, reaching well into the air like one of those birthday-party noisemakers that you blow into. John said he observed a chick preening at the edge of the nest on Monday, which, according to Cornell University (among the nation’s leading sources of research on birds), indicates the chicks hatched about 20 days earlier.
The Mad Birder estimates they should be ready to leave the nest three or four days from now.