After following a couple of young Costa’s Hummingbirds since they were eggs, I returned to Placerita Canyon on Saturday, unsure if they would be there. They have a 20-23 day fledging period and I didn’t know how old they were when I first saw them. Saturday marked day 22. I arrived to find them both in the nest. In the week between visits, they had grown quite a bit in size and their beaks were longer. Their feathers also looked more complete and they gained a lot of color. I was only able to spend about 45 minutes in the morning, and all I saw was them sleeping. It was a little windy…I snapped off a few shots with my D70, but it was hard to do any digiscoping.
Since it was so close to fledging time, I figured I’d take another look on Sunday. My friend Chad decided to come along and we got out there around 8:30 in the morning. The day was perfect…June Gloom was over and there was very little breeze. I expected at least one of the chicks to be gone, but both of them were still there. This time, they were more active and it felt like today was the day they were going to finally venture out on their own. After spending a little over an hour, we got the feeling that they weren’t going anywhere immediately, so we decided to explore some areas of the park we hadn’t seen before.
After checking out a couple of trails, it was starting to warm up quite a bit, and we figured we’d stop by the nest before heading out. Now the chicks seemed raring to go. Their mother kept coming by, making quick stops and darting off, all the time calling to her chicks as if to encourage them to fly. At one point she landed on the nest to give them a quick meal. She darted back off and they practiced flying a bit. I was able to get some video of one of them practicing, one foot free. It lost its balance, but then recovered. It would have been incredible getting video of a hummingbird as it fledged, but what I have managed to get has been awesome. Since it was also the outside day of their fledging period, I was able to estimate with some certainty their age when I got the first photo of them. I figure they were less than a day or two old. Now that’s priceless!
Don’t miss Part One.
(You must have QuickTime to see the videos. If you don’t have it, get it here.)
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