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Hummingbirds are tiny, colorful birds whose name comes from the rapid beating of their wings. At more than 80 flaps per second, they fly accompanied by a humming sound. This unique bird also has an interesting way of protecting and incubating its eggs.
The mother hummingbird is entirely responsible for making her nest, incubating her eggs and rearing her young. She makes a nest out of leaves, moss and spider silk. Her home is small, no bigger than a ping pong ball, and is only meant to hold two chicks at a time.
Depending on the type of hummingbird, gestation of a hummingbird egg can take anywhere from 11 to 22 days. Generally speaking, hummingbird gestation never takes longer than a month. While this may seem short, it's actually a long gestation period compared to other birds, whose eggs hatch after only a couple weeks.
Hummingbird eggs, like the hummingbirds themselves, are small. Most measure less than a half-inch, about the size of a jellybean. Once hatched, baby birds weigh 0.62 grams, less than a dime!
Hummingbird chicks have special adaptations that allow them to hatch more easily. While in the egg, their bill hardens to allow them to break their shells more easily. Hummingbird chicks also have a hatching muscle at the back of their head to give their bill strikes more force.
After the chicks have hatched, the mother hummingbird disposes of the empty shell shards, as these may alert predators to the presence of her nest.
- Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Noël Zia Lee