Kim Michaels: Blog en-us (C) Kim Michaels (Kim Michaels) Mon, 29 Nov 2021 17:08:00 GMT Mon, 29 Nov 2021 17:08:00 GMT Kim Michaels: Blog 103 120 That's a Mouthful! I was walking to the car about 5:30pm on a warm September evening, done shooting at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, when I saw a few people looking down on the trail, right by the parking lot. My attention had been focused up, on a Red-shouldered hawk, standing in a tree overhead. He had been looking off in a different direction, I was surprised that he didn't see the little event playing out below him.

Stocking Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) at El Dorado Park

If I hadn't noticed the focused interest of those on the trail, I might have walked right by this photo story. Timing is everything!

How completely unexpected... a snake with a mouse, right in a high foot traffic area. A very small King snake. This little guy was only about 10 inches long, diameter about the size of a quarter, curled up like this he would fit in your hand.

He was clearly trying to eat his mouse, a feast far bigger than what seemed possible. I ran to the car to change lenses, I wanted to get much closer to this picnic!

He was wrapping himself tightly around the mouse. He was trying to constrict the diameter of his dinner in order to take it in. I had absolutely no idea how this snake was going to manage this monster of a meal.

Am I really seeing this? How in the world is this going to play out? I was very curious to see how this very determined snake was going to eat this very big bite.

His ambitious game of Twister continued. He tried and tried and tried, but that mouse wasn't moving. And now he had two photographers clicking away at his every twist and turn.

This poor little snake, just trying to swallow a big mouse, clearly a challenge annoying enough, but then to have humans pointing huge lenses at him, and... those darn pesky ants! I wonder if it tickles.

Okay enough is enough! The mouse isn't going down, the photographers aren't going away, and those damn ants... Time to get this show on the road. A road to privacy for a snake and his supper.

I was quite impressed with the king-sized strength of this King snake. Adrenalin rush?

He was able to lift his dead weight up over this acorn.

The mouse's face was locked in the snake's mouth all the way up to its ears.

He was headed to a bushy area on the other side of the trail.

But first, a dangerous crossing...

Over the heavily traveled trail, completely out in the open.

It took every ounce of effort but he crossed safely. I would like to think that our presence with him on the trail protected him.

By now I had completely forgotten about the hawk overhead. I have no idea how he missed this yummy meal, a double score for sure for a hungry raptor!

Almost to the bushes and a clean get away... but first up a little hill.

Piece of cake for a snake!

Why did the snake cross the road?

To eat...

A meal fit for a King... snake.


P.S. I have no idea how this story ended. I was back a few days later and did not see a snake-with-mouse-stuck-in-mouth carcass in the bushes. I assume he gave up and slithered away. Or, he won't have to eat for a month now!


Gallery Photos:

(Kim Michaels) Mon, 30 Sep 2013 19:20:00 GMT
Just Another Day of Fishing There is a park in Long Beach California, El Dorado Regional Park, a favorite place for photographers and fishermen. In the winter the lake is stocked with nice, plump, healthy, Rainbow Trout. It's obvious why people like to fish there...

Stocking Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) at El Dorado Park Photographers flock to El Dorado Park for the osprey action. Usually, a day after each stocking, the south west shore of the lake is lined with tripods and long lenses. The park has some very contented resident opsreys. There are areas of the lake where they fish very close to the shore, providing wildlife photographers with that much desired opportunity to get close-up photos of an osprey fishing. There are not that many lakes that offer a consistent chance of being so close to the action, although it's never guaranteed, in fact most of the time the bird will drop too far away, or fly off in the wrong direction. But we all love the challenge... And this year I won the osprey fishing lottery. :-)

It was a cold Saturday in January. As is the case so many times... we were just about to leave, after several unsuccessful hours of waiting and hoping, when we saw the osprey hunting and thought we would give it one more try.

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican. She seemed really determined this time, I started to get hopeful...

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican.

An osprey's vision is well adapted to detecting underwater objects from the air. Prey is first sighted about 130 feet above the water, she hovers momentarily, then plunges feet first into the water.

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican.

I didn't think I would be able to track her all the way down through the air and catch her again when she surfaced so I sacrificed the dive and plunge to be ready and focused on her when she exited the water.

She hesitated for quite awhile before she flew out of the lake with her prize. She took a lot longer than usual to grab her meal. I was expecting to see a really big fish when she eventually raised up, based on how long it took her to secure this catch.

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican. My heart was beating up a storm now... Here comes the moment photo dreams are made of...

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican.

Not only did she score extremely close to us, but she flew off in our direction! You just can't ask for a better photo op.
Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican.

Oh boy... looks like a big one...

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican.

Osprey and owls are the only raptors whose outer toe is reversible, allowing them to grasp their prey with two toes in front and two behind. This is particularly helpful when grabbing slippery fish.

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican. They have backwards-facing scales on their talons which act as barbs to help hold the catch.

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican. Their nostrils close to keep out water during their feet-first dives.

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican.

Their wingspan is about 5 feet across.

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican. Yup... that's one big trout!

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican. Exciting moments like this seem to have a surreal seal to them, meaning time moves very fast and very slow at the same time.

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican. The camera is bursting away, I'm seeing life explode before me through the viewfinder, sometimes it all happens so fast I have no idea what shots I got till I look at them.

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican. Other times I can see the images actually evolve in real time through the viewfinder. But most of the time it's just one big rush that takes my breath away. Then I can't wait to look at my photos to see if I got any keepers.

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican.

As the osprey was making her way off with her lunch, she flew right by us! I had absolutely no idea if my camera was getting anything or not. The lens I use requires a minimum distance of 11 feet from the subject. It sure felt like she flew by too close...

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican. Was I surprised and totally thrilled to see that I got the shots! (Although I wish I hadn't cut off the bottom of the fish...)

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican.

Unreal how close she was as she flew by. My heart still flutters, months later, as I relive this to post it.Osprey (pandion haliaetus) fishing for a large rainbow trout.Up into the air and off to eat her fish. We paused for a moment taking it all in, thinking that was it, realizing we just experienced the ultimate osprey fishing event.

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican.

Then, if what just happened wasn't fulfilling enough, the osprey started circling overhead with her trout...

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican.

Many times they will circle once or twice before flying off to perch and eat. Today we got the Powerball prize of photo opportunities!

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican. As the osprey circled, a big white pelican appeared and was very intent upon stealing the fish.

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican. Look how the eagle-sized osprey is dwarfed by the pelican.

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, pinching myself while pressing the shutter.

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican.

The osprey was chased around and around, but she made a clean get away. She worked way too hard to loose her fish to a freeloader!

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout is chased by a white pelican.

Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) in flight.

Osprey (pandion haliaetus) with a large rainbow trout.

Enjoy your trout, you earned it!



Gallery Photos:


(Kim Michaels) animal story fish fish eagle fish hawk fish in talons fish-eating bird of prey flying osprey great white pelican nature Oncorhynchus mykiss osprey osprey in flight outdoors pandion haliaetus pelecanus onocrotalus pelican chasing osprey with fish rainbow trout raptor regal sea hawk talons wildlife Sun, 31 Mar 2013 19:20:00 GMT
Raising Hummer Chicks    2.24.2013


It's Twins: Two Boys, or Two Girls, or a Boy and a Girl (I have no idea!)

I arrived at 7:30 this morning to find one hatchling and one egg. I'm guessing this little guy is about 15 hours old.

Anna Anna Anna Hummingbirds hatch with their eyes closed, weighing about 1/3 of a dime.

Mama spent the day incubating the remaining egg, now she has a little one to feed.

Anna Each time she left the nest I checked on the egg. By mid-day Mama was very used to me being there. The winds kicked up, the nest went for quite a ride. A branch got stuck with its leaves confining Mama on the nest. I moved the branch, Mama never flinched, she didn't fly off when I got that close. That really surprised and pleased me.

Anna Mama has more freedom now to come and go, but never gone for long, she has to keep the newborn warm.

Then, around 2pm... The second egg started to go!

Anna Anna Anna Anna

In a few days they will double in size, their beaks will darken, and they will be covered in little fuzzy pinfeathers, regulating their own body heat after 9-10 days.

Anna Back with some fresh fluff. Meticulous Mama keeping the nest up to code.

Anna Occasionally a male hummingbird would come too close and Mama would get aggressive. The male's brightly colored feathers are considered a threat that will attract predators. Go get 'em!


Feeding time again... The babies, unable to see, feel the wind from Mom's wings and know it's time to eat.


Anna BIG yawns...

Anna I've never seen a hummer's tongue like that, quite interesting!


What a busy day. Now a little hummer time out.


Rest your eyes Mama, you're doing a great job!


2.25.2013   1 day old

Anna My guess is that the two chicks were born a day apart, the first one late afternoon on the 23rd, the second one hatched on my watch around 2:30 on the 24th. Look at the size difference, one is about 50% larger than the other. Their infant hairs are filling in.

Anna Egg shells on the head, too cute.

Anna Speaking of egg shells... Mama is doing a little house cleaning, throwing out some of the debris.

Anna A quick pit stop. She would sit for awhile, her eye lids would get heavy, but then she would hear something and perk up. Always on duty.

Anna's hummingbird, Calypte annaI had to climb a small tree to get a high enough angle to shoot her feeding the chicks. Once in the tree, I had to stand to get the camera even higher up. Not very comfortable (and a bit too precarious) but worth it to get the shots.


You can see Mama's beak through the chick's throat skin. Amazing how she gets her beak so far down into this tiny creature.


She has a bug on her beak. I didn't know the babies can eat solid food so soon. Hummingbirds get their protein from bugs. Mama eats a mixture of bugs and nectar, then regurgitates the slurry for feeding.

Anna Anna Anna's hummingbird, Calypte annaI saw the older chick start to move rather deliberately to the edge of the nest. It caught my attention, I was curious about what he was doing.

Anna Then he put his rear end up and...

Anna Hummingbirds are toilet trained at birth, doing everything they can to dispose of waste over the side of the nest.

Anna's hummingbird, Calypte annaAnna

Thanks Mama for another great day of photos!


2.26.2013  2 days old

Had to change my set up yesterday. About 4 feet up a tree, holding myself up there with my left leg, while putting all my weight on my right foot, which is on a small tree (feels like the rung of a ladder), while trying to find a stable place for the monopod. Not comfortable, but worth it to get a better angle on shooting the nest.

Up and down the tree several times to get the flash set up (using low power, I am respectful of their environment). Then I stay in the tree while she is on the nest, constantly watching through the lens. When Mom leaves I climb down and grab the little mirrorless camera for the close-up nest shots. Then back up the tree to get Mom returning and hopefully feeding.

Anna Okay, we're talking centimeters here! The younger chick is only 1/2 centimeter wide, the older one is about 3/4 Cm wide. The diameter of the outside of the nest is 1.5 inches, inside diameter is about an inch.

Anna Look at the younger chick's little wing and leg. So very tiny!

Anna "Hurry Up Mom!"

The chicks know when Mom is coming.

Anna "I'm home."

Anna Getting ready to feed...


"Mom, what are you waiting for?"


Mama is filling up the chick with a mixture of bugs and nectar. You can see the little one's tongue.

Anna All the way down!

Anna Here you can see a bug in the baby's mouth.

Anna Mama just finished feeding, those are bug wings on her beak.

Anna's hummingbird, Calypte annaAnna Be off with your aggressive self!


Good Night Mama, Sweet Dreams.


2.28.2013  5 days old

Anna At 4 and 5 days old they almost fill up the bottom of the nest.


They have gotten darker. Looks like their eyes might be opening soon.

The chicks were napping when I checked on them this afternoon, although never too tired to eat...


Till next time...


3.3.2013  8 days old

Look at the size difference after only 3 day's growth! They can't lay in the nest without turning their head.

Anna They slept the entire three hours I was there, other than five feedings. Mama was gone from the nest for most of my visit.

I spent a lot of time in the tree "at the ready" waiting for Mama to return. I didn't know I needed to prep my monkey muscles before I started this project!

Anna Their pinfeathers have started to grow, poking through the skin one by one.

I brought Mama a meal to show my appreciation, trying to make up for my intrusions.


She knew immediately what it was. This nest is in an area where there are no feeders nearby, I didn't think she would know it was a dinner delivery. Maybe she used to be a city hummer and moved to the country to raise her kids.

Anna's hummingbird, Calypte annaHummingbirds flap their wings in a figure 8 motion, about 20-30 times per second.

They consume more than their own weight in nectar every day. They store just enough energy to survive overnight by going into a hibernation-like state called "torpor". Their metabolic rate slows to 1/15th of normal. As the day warms, their body temperature rises and they resume their normal activity. Here is a video of a hummingbird who overslept:

Drink up Mama!


You can see Mom feeding them ants. Hummers use their tongue like a needle in a sewing machine to get the bugs down into the chick.

Anna Anna Anna's hummingbird, Calypte annaBellies bloated with bugs... all that protein fueling healthy growth.

Anna And healthy growth means healthy...

Anna Whoohoo what a shot! Both for the chick and for me :-)


Mama's "Sewing Needle" Tongue


3.5.2013  10 days old

Anna Their eyes are opening, their pinfeathers are sprouting, still sleeping continuously.

Anna Look how big they are getting.

Anna Down the hatch.

Anna And once again...




3.7.2013  12 days old

We're having some rain, started last night. Made a quick stop this morning, in between the precipitation, to check on the chick's last 48 hours of development. I knew to wear my rubber boots!

This area is usually dry, or at most, a little squishy.

Water... everywhere I step...

Anna Look... Their feathers now reflect color!

Anna They are definitely close nest mates.

After feeding she flew directly at me, letting me know my time there was done. I thanked her and quickly went on my way.

Every mom deserves respect!


3.9.2013  14 days old


They have awareness now. As I walked up to the nest he opened his eye obviously aware of me.

Most of the time I've been here, I could hear another female hummer busy at work behind me. I never paid much attention to her. In fact, I haven't heard her recently. Well...

Anna Mama has a neighbor. The reason "Mama 2" has been quiet lately is because she started incubating (you can see her beak). This nest is about 20 feet downstream, and at least 20 feet up, near the top of a tree. I didn't know they nest so high. This nest has zero shelter from the rain! Makes me wonder if Mama 2 is not as experienced. Maybe she is one of Mama's chicks from last year?

Anna's hummingbird, Calypte annaOur Mama is out hunting bugs.


They grab them out of the air.


"Not on the face, Mom!"

Just like all babies at this age all they do is eat, sleep and...

Watch for the surprise ending...

I think this one got me...

Nope! Saved by a leaf. I can't believe it actually hit a leaf and not my clothes.

Hit me with your best shot!


3.12.2013  17 days old

They are becoming little birds.

Anna Wing feathers progressing nicely.

Anna Landing gear... check!

Anna's hummingbird, Calypte annaDoin' the hummer dance.


"Open Wide"

Anna A beak full O' bugs.

Anna Off to go hunting...


"Look Mama! There... right behind you!"

I wasn't so lucky today. Also got it on my shirt pocket and camera strap.


They sat still or slept most of the time, except for this active moment. This is the week they will start to investigate their world in preparation for the big fledge.

Kids grow up so fast!


3.14.2013  19 days old

Anna The nest has expanded over a half inch. That spider webbing is good stuff!

They are still sedentary, just sleeping, sitting, eating, and, you know...


Today I had lots of "firsts"... The first time I saw them flap their wings, scratch their face, groom their feathers, and change positions.

Anna The first wing stretch and feather flapping.Anna

Feathers are still individually wrapped.


Working on each feather to unwrap it.

Anna Anna

The first face scratch.

Anna's hummingbird, Calypte anna

"Ahhhh... that feels good!"


Another first for today, the chicks not wanting all that Mom has to offer. I watched them close off to Mama's beak.


"No more Mom, I'm full."


Then she would tap them on the head telling them she had more to feed, but they ignored her.

Anna's hummingbird, Calypte anna

The 24 hour age difference between the two chicks is still apparent in their actions. The younger one has just about caught up in size, he sure looks up to his older brother. Every "first" the older chick tried, the younger one immediately copied him.

Anna "Not during dinner!"

Manners still to be taught.


3.15.2013  20 days old

Their appearance has progressed, feathers have filled in. They look like complete hummingbirds!


With intense interest he watched something fly overhead. So cool to see the chick notice something up so high, how intently he watched it travel from one side to the other. I thought he was going to fly right out of the nest after it.Anna It's a grooming thing...


Mama won't be able to land on the edge of the nest for much longer.Anna




Tongue exercises.


Mama landing on the end of the chick's wing.

Anna Off again...

Anna Business as usual.

Anna "I'm gonna miss you bro!"

Not long now till they fledge.


3.17.2013  22 days old

Their feathers have matured enough now to declare both chicks as males. You can see their gorget feathers forming. The red throat coloring will appear in a few months.

Anna Anna Mama has to feed from the branch now, no room in the inn.

Anna Documenting by iPhone too...


Yes, they let us get this close.Anna She tried to feed on the fly...

Anna Nope, changed her mind, the chicks were full.

Any day now!


3.18.2013  23 days old

Today was a big day. I arrived to find one chick sitting on the rim of the nest, the other still in the nest.

Anna They were busy exercising their wings...

Anna's hummingbird, Calypte anna

Getting a feel for flapping... almost time to take off.


"I'm the king of the world!"


"Hi Mom."


I noticed that Mama doesn't seem to be feeding them bugs anymore, mostly liquid.

Anna Anna

Lot's of grooming.Anna

"Oh y-e-a-h... scratch right there... ahhh... dude that feels good!"

Anna Mama saw something on a branch that caught her attention. She was picking at it, then flew off.

Anna's hummingbird, Calypte annaMom came back and started nipping at the chick's back end.


She was encouraging him to "Just Do It".


And sure enough...

Anna Just a few minutes later...


He started flapping his wings...


He experienced his first airborne moment!

Anna's hummingbird, Calypte annaHe flew up the branch about 6-8 inches and landed.


Then made his way back down to the nest and crawled in completely exhausted.

What a Rush!


3.19.2013  24 days old

Bye Bye Birdies!

Today was departure day. I almost missed it! When I arrived, the older chick was already gone, didn't see him anywhere. The younger chick was still sitting on the nest. I set up the flash, as I moved the branch, he must have flown off. I turned around and the nest was vacant! Talk about an empty feeling, after all this not getting to see either of them leave. I was sad. But then...

Anna Look who I saw sitting on a branch just above the nest!

Anna Mama is still feeding him.

Anna He kept licking each branch he landed on.

Anna He flew to several different branches, further and further away.

Anna I don't know how long the chicks are fed after they fledge.

Anna's hummingbird, Calypte anna He was now too far away. I realized that was it. I was done.

I packed up my gear and just sat there taking it all in.

What an incredible experience!

In Memoriam

I've heard that hummingbirds are messengers for the spirit world, bringing balance to nature and spirit. Maybe via a supernatural world wide web? I can't explain how I was able to find Mama's nest so quickly (or at all)! Upon arrival I was drawn straight to Mama, requiring me to walk right by a no trespassing gate, which I did without a second thought. Not something I usually do. I walked down the hill and kept walking until I hit the creek and could go no further. I immediately looked up and saw Mama pulling at spider webbing up near the top of a tree. I watched her gather the webbing for a few seconds, she then flew directly to her nest. I was stunned how quickly this played out.

Not two minutes later I heard my phone's email sound. I grabbed it wondering why was I bothering to check my email when I just found the perfect hummingbird nest. It was an email notifying me that my dear sweet Aunt Connie was dying, only days left. I was stunned again.

This hummingbird experience is dedicated to my beloved Aunt Connie 3.27.18 ~ 2.8.13

I am also dedicating this to my beautiful Aunt Mary, who sent me money to publish my first photography book. I've saved the money waiting for a subject worthy of being published. I look forward to sending my aunt the very first nest story book printed.


Gear Used:

Canon 7D Camera

Canon 300mm F4L Lens

Canon 400mm F5.6L Lens

Canon Speedlite 580EXII Flash with PocketWizards

Manfrotto Monopod with Ball Head

Olympus EM-5 Mirrorless Camera with Flash Unit (close up photos and video)

Olympus 12-50mm Lens with Macro

iPhone 5


This photographer would like to thank:

Carl Jackson ~ Thank you for the use of your gear, especially the mirrorless camera.  And thank you for your ideas and suggestions. This labor of love would not be anywhere near what it is without you. Thank you so much!

Whoever owns the land I was trespassing on for not finding me down there (or not turning me in if you did).

And, most of all, a huge THANK YOU to Mama and her chicks for putting up with my invasion into their world.


Gallery Photos (larger viewing size):

(Kim Michaels) Calypte anna amazing animal story anna's hummingbird annas babies bedding bird black bill blending in building nest camoflauge circle of life cleaning beak cleaning feathers cleaning tail cleaning wings crimson-red throat eggs eggs hatching emerald feathers fast wings feeding chicks fluff flying jewels green back hatchlings hummer hummingbird preening incubating iridescent color long beak mama moss mother nature nest nesting nesting material new generation nurturing outdoors protective coloring red crown rose-pink throat sparkling spider web tic tacs tiny white eggs wildlife Sun, 24 Feb 2013 20:20:00 GMT
It's Hummer Nesting Time Time for a new generation of the circle of life.


On a sunny Sunday morning I set out to explore a local bike trail in search of wildlife to photograph. I looked to my right, then looked to my left, trying to decide which way to go, but something pulled me straight ahead, off the trail where I would have never thought to go. I discovered a little valley area with a stream running through it. I immediately heard all the hummingbird activity (the males have been showing off for weeks now).

I walked up to the stream, looked up, and there was a female Anna's pulling at spider webbing high up on a tree. Bingo! They are nesting! I saw her fly into a bush that was right in front of me (across the stream). And there was the unobstructed nest, at a perfect level to shoot it at. Pinch me!
I crossed the stream to get a close up look at the nest. What a master builder Mama is. The nest looked complete and ready to go, although Mama was very active with the finishing touches. She was applying the last of the spider webbing when I got there. She would wrap the webs around the outside of the nest.

Anna Hummingbirds use spider webbing to bind their nests. It allows the nest to expand as the babies grow.

Next, she made several installations of the interior bedding layer. Beaks full of fluffy stuff, only the best for her babies.

Anna Anna Anna She would put the nesting material down at the bottom.

Anna Then she would stomp it down with her feet. Stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp.

Anna She was very meticulous, paying attention to every detail. Putting every last piece in its place.

Anna Back with more. I was so glad to see how much she was reinforcing the bottom of the nest. The first hummingbird nest I ever photographed was not built very well. The entire bottom fell out, the poor babies had no where to sit. One eventually fell to the ground! Fortunately I was there and rescued him. These babies won't have that problem.

Anna Some more stomping the nest bottom, some more attention to the outside.

Anna She would make a circular motion around the entire outside of the nest. Making sure everything was where it should be.

Anna After each nest building session she would stretch then fly off. This went on all afternoon.

Anna No home would be complete with out the decorative details!

Anna Applying the moss to the nest.

Anna A few more nips and tucks, here and there, and it's done!

Anna Nest building can be sticky business. Birds clean their beaks by rubbing them on tree branches.

Anna She had spider webbing and fluff stuck to her tail.

Anna And on her wing tips.

Anna Gotta clean the beak.

Anna Anna's hummingbird (Calypte anna) building a nest, incubating eggs, raising chicks, the entire circle of life of a hummer. Anna

Time for a break. Which, for a hummer, is about a minute.


Congratulations Mama on a job well done!



One week later... There are now two eggs in the nest!

Anna I discovered this nest on February 3rd, ​coincidentally on the same day Mama finished building it (can take a couple weeks to build a nest). I went back the next day, she was away from the nest most of the time I was there. We had rain after that. Hummingbirds lay two eggs, one day apart. My guess is that Mama laid her eggs on the 5th and 6th.


Even though the eggs were probably laid on different days, both eggs will usually hatch on the same day because the incubation process is delayed until the second egg is laid.

The diameter of this nest is about the same as a quarter. The eggs look like tic tacs.

Here is some interesting information about the nesting process:


While I was there on the 10th, Mama left the nest only a few times to get a quick bite to eat, then she would come right back. She will incubate the eggs for 16-18 days, keeping them at a constant temperature of 96 degrees.

Look at that beautiful nest. Mama is definitely a master ​architect and builder!



Anna Checking in on Mama... This was my second visit in the past week. Both times she was dutifully incubating. She sits on the nest continuously, leaving only for quick meals. We're getting some rain this week, but should be sunny and nice for the anticipated hatching, still expected on the 21st (rain on the 19th, will check on the 20th :-)

Notice how she has added to the nest. There is now another layer of camouflage pieces around the rim. Look at how well she blends in with the nest, and into the surroundings.

The outside nest diameter appears to be about the size of a 50 cent piece, inside diameter probably close to a quarter. The eggs are still tucked away, cozy and warm.

Mama is a very experienced mother!




Brrrrrr... Last night was rainy, windy and 45 degrees. The sun rose this morning to bring a week of clear weather ahead. Mama and the eggs must have breezed through the night, all is well on this sunny but cool afternoon. No hatchlings yet.

Anna Once again, I must compliment Mama on her artistic flair while truly defining the word "camouflage": Protective coloring or another feature that conceals an animal and enables it to blend into its surroundings.

Anna For scale... The black part of the key is about 1.25 inches square.


Will you look at that... The babies have received their first flower!

It must not be long now...



Morning Update: another cold night and chilly morning. At 8am it is in the mid-40s. When the weather is cooler, it can take the eggs longer to hatch. Today is the 16th day, they have up to 18 days in warm weather, I'm guessing the cold is going to keep it from happening today...

Afternoon Update: no news. Of course I checked the nest during the only time it rained the entire day, with the most rain falling as soon as I got down there. 15 minutes before or after, nice and sunny.

Here are some videos of other nests:

A hummer built her nest in the arm of a garage door opener. These eggs took 20 days to hatch, inside, in June. This family kept their garage door open for over six weeks!

This video shows mama building her nest. Bringing in the stuffing and stomping it down, just as I described above. At 1:35 it shows her attending to the outside of the nest, ​circling around with her beak.

Here is the entire nesting process: This is a *great* video and well worth the eight minutes!

Anna Meanwhile... anxiously waiting here...



Anna No babies yet.  Mom doing her thing. Talk about bed rest... Three weeks sitting this still, for a hummer, can't imagine!



Anna OMGosh... can't be long now... look at the shells, they sure look ready... Looks like two little crack marks in the bottom egg. I can't get back there today (photo taken around 2:30pm), hope they wait till tomorrow!

To Be Continued...


Gallery Photos:

(Kim Michaels) Calypte anna amazing animal story anna's hummingbird annas babies bedding bird black bill blending in building nest camoflauge circle of life cleaning beak cleaning feathers cleaning tail cleaning wings crimson-red throat eggs eggs hatching emerald feathers fast wings feeding chicks fluff flying jewels green back hatchlings hummer hummingbird preening incubating iridescent color long beak mama moss mother nature nest nesting nesting material new generation nurturing outdoors protective coloring red crown rose-pink throat sparkling spider web tic tacs tiny white eggs wildlife Tue, 05 Feb 2013 20:20:00 GMT
Kids Will Be Kids Oh, hello there.

I was at a park that is paradise for a very large population of squirrels. I was there when a whole new generation of youngsters were coming into their own, enjoying carefree days of play and discovery.

After about three hours of non-stop shooting, I sat down on a tree stump to rest for a bit. Not three minutes later this little guy appeared right in front of me. Fortunately putting the camera up to my face did not scare him off.

Gee, what's that in his mouth...

Ohhhh, the knotted end of a balloon. The knotted end of a balloon!

Whatcha gonna do with it?

At first I was concerned that he would swallow it not knowing it wasn't food. What would I do if a baby squirrel started choking right in front of me?

You're not going to eat that, are you? Hmmm... well I guess he knows it's not squirrel food. Oh my gosh, how cute is that?

"Nope, just playing with it." I sat there ready to keep shooting wondering if this would be it, would he see me now and run back into the hole?
Having too much fun. Nope! To my surprise, he began to play with his balloon. He definitely knew that this was a toy and not a possible mid-day snack.

Kids will be kids! He seemed fascinated by the elasticity of his toy. He held the loop in his mouth and pulled the knotted balloon end back and forth just as we do before we blow up a balloon. But in this case, he was clearly just playing with this fun rubber thing he found. I winced as I expected to see it snap back in his face, but he somehow knew not to let go when his arms were extended! Phew, it really was just fun and games.

I am always so amazed to see animals with such classic human traits.


"See ya!"

Bye Bye!


See complete gallery at

(Kim Michaels) Sciuridae Sciurus niger adorable baby squirrel bushy tail cute dirt entertaining funny fur grass ground squirrel huntington beach juvenile nature outdoors rocks rodent southern california squirrel playing squirrels tunnel wildlife young Wed, 30 Jan 2013 20:20:00 GMT
2013 is the year of the blog...  

Photo Stories Coming Soon!Squirrel with knotted ballon end.Ohhhh, the knotted end of a balloon.

(Kim Michaels) Sciuridae Sciurus adorable baby squirrel entertaining funny fur juvenile nature outdoors rodent tunnel wildlife young Tue, 01 Jan 2013 20:00:00 GMT