We’re here to help! Wild Yards is a completely free website that is 100% dedicated to helping you create a wildlife-friendly, sustainable yard. Read more
On occasion, we have all found nests in our gardens, some of which appear to have been well lived-in, and others that appear to be used as homes for years, even by the same birds. But what about some of our favorite winged pollinators – do hummingbirds come back to the same nest every year?
Many hummingbirds don’t tend to come back to the same nest again and again. In fact, their nests are often not strong enough to be able to last through an entire season, let alone more. That said, hummingbirds do return perhaps once more in a season if they absolutely have to.
Why don’t hummingbirds reuse the same nest?
It is all to do with the strength of their nesting, and how these birds have evolved – unlike many other birds, they are not homebodies, and will move on to spend their time better looking for new, more exciting sources of nectar.
Even though hummingbirds are some of the most fascinating architects that nature has to offer and are ingenious crafters, their nests are still only built to hold their eggs and to contain their young while they need them – and that’s not long at all.
Once the young have left the nest, between 45 and 60 days after being born, the nest is then disposed of. Not exactly sustainable – but it’s all to do with reusability. These nests can be extremely fragile – as are hummingbird eggs – and as such, it doesn’t make sense for a nesting parent to risk its young.
There are some exceptions to this rule. The broad-tailed hummingbird, for example, can be seen heading back to its nesting site each year. The fact remains that if a nest is strong enough to withstand another winter, a hummingbird will use it again. Otherwise, it will take its chances and set up another nest elsewhere, perhaps in the same yard or garden.
How many times can a hummingbird use the same nest?
Generally, hummingbird nests are built to last a single egg hatching period. While the hummingbird nesting technique is intricate and even fantastically camouflaged, their nests don’t tend to be the strongest in the animal kingdom.
As mentioned, this can vary from species to species, and of course, the ferocity of any given winter will likely dictate whether or not a hummingbird will choose to rebuild. That said, it doesn’t take the average hummingbird too long to start building a nest from scratch – within five days to the space of a week, they will have a brand new egg spot built and ready to welcome the young once again.
Do hummingbirds return to the same areas?
Even though hummingbirds rarely return to the same nest in one season and never for multiple years, that does not mean that they will not return to the same area. In fact, if they find a perfect spot for nectar and a variety of hummingbird-friendly flowers, then why change? Hummingbirds come back to the same areas time and time again – great news if you’re keen to make your yard a pollinating paradise.
If your garden has everything that a hummingbird needs, then the chances are that you will have a frequent visitor base every year. Their young may even return to the same spot if they are comfortable there. However, to attract hummingbirds to your yard, it makes sense to keep growing a wide variety of blooms and to avoid using pesticides – you may even choose to rewild your lawn, too, if you want to recreate the look of their local habitat.
You don’t have to host a hummingbird nest on-site to expect visitors. Like many pollinators, hummingbirds will happily travel long distances to get the best nectar and insects. That said, having a hummingbird nest in your garden can be a fantastic sign that you’re doing a great job. Just don’t be too disheartened, of course, if they re-nest or leave old roosting spots behind – it’s just what hummingbirds do.
All you need to do as a responsible wild yard owner is to make sure your garden is full of flowers hummingbirds adore – and thankfully, that’s not always as difficult to do as it may seem!
I’ve been very fortunate indeed! I’ve had a female reuse a nest three times over two seasons. I must admit to securing the nest with wire during her first clutch as the nest became loose from the awning cord it was built on.
I’ve watched the same female raise four clutches.
Something else cool – before building that first nest, she went inside my home and zoomed around the downstairs to check it out. She started construction atop the cord of the awning outside my back door the very next day.
How awesome ! I do believe they recognize us.
I have been very fortunate as well, i have had four occasions every year that the hummingbird has built a nest in my yard. I noticed that the second time the mother had built her nest, it was on my peach tree and a lizard got a hold of the eggs. So that was devastating to me and i had my husband cut the tree down that year. Now the hummingbird builds inside my porch on top of the windchimes, she did last year and again this April 2023, she is still sitting on her eggs faithfully, it has been 6 days since she has laid both eggs. She did not reuse the nest that appeared intact to me from last year. instead, she built a new nest on another windchime right next to the other one. I have placed many windchimes on my porch, I make sure I do not utilize the porch causing her distress during her nesting period and till the babies have fledged. I am just wondering if it actually is the same mother each year or could it be her babies, she had each year that has become an adult.