There is the occasional marvel that peaks the interest of experts, unfolding nature's firsts or never-before observed peculiarities, and this is certainly one of those wonders.
This is quite possibly one of the most unique bird stories ever told; This is a true phenomenon of nature that is garnering world-wide interest and attention not only from loyal followers of hummingbirds, but bird experts, rehabbers, and bird endocrinologists alike.
This real-life bending of Mother Nature's rules is unfolding at Bellahummingbird.com, where our favorite hummingbird, Bella is performing her maternal duties raising twin baby chicks with a peculiar twist. This ain't your run-of-the-mill nest experience with raw and captivating experiences. This involves an intruding relative that is making life in the nest difficult and often downright dangerous for Bella and the hummer chicks.
Bella is a real California girl from La Verne, Southern Cal who lives and raises chicks in a ficus tree. Our gracious host, "BH" has been watching hummers named Bella, build nests and raise babies since 2005. Our Bellas are Allens hummingbirds that build up to four nests per breeding season, November through June. There have been several "Bellas" and since they are not banded birds; there is no way of knowing how many different hummingbirds have raised their tiny families there.
These are all the makings of a Cinderella story; but the nemesis is not a hummer-in-law, it is the proverbial confused step-sister named Rosey (AKA Rosie), a Rufous/Allen's hybrid.
Last year Rosey, instead of becoming her flying free - miss independent, preferred to stay close to her homestead and hang out with her mother. As Bella went on with her business raising her next clutch (group of hummer chicks), Rosey was reluctant to learn to feed and bug hunt on her own. She would sit close to where Bella was incubating eggs, noticeably all too dependent and reliant on mom.
BH observed the appearance that Rosey had wanted to jump back into the nest with her mother. But she didn't do that ...until this mating season.
Bella tolerated her being in her tree but Rosey's curiosity ensued, initially with no aggressive behavior but that quickly accelerated. As concerns with hyper and strange behavior escalated, and Rosey becoming rather frenetic, our host BH brought this behavior to the attention of Terry Masear, hummingbird rehab specialist and author of Fastest Things on Wings: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood.
Rosey started coming to the nest after Bella's babies hatched, appearing to practice nest building. She would curiously land on the edge of the nest and eventually started making stomping motions for up to 15 minutes at a time with the baby chicks inside.
Another first, Rosey has built her own nest remarkably close to Bella's, in the same tree just a foot away. Whether or not Rosey will lay her own eggs in her nest remains to be seen. It is unknown if the Rufous/Allen's hybrid can mate and lay eggs. In this case, her nest would remain an attempted duplication of her mother Bella's.
Hummingbird experts do not think Rosey would deliberately harm the baby chicks, but her behavior may unintentionally hurt them. Initially, she mimicked feeding of the twin chicks by poking them, bringing bugs and fluff to embellish their nest, but recently has actually fed them nectar. Eventually, Rosey started preventing Bella from entering the nest leaving her unable to feed the babies, a serious complication because the chicks need to be fed often. In case of a nest mishap, there has been a safety net installed for their protection.
BH and rehab specialist Terry Masear continue to closely monitor the situation and have seriously considered taking the nest and chicks to rehabilitate. But at this point, it is looking good that the twin chicks will be able to live out and fledge from their nest in the ficus tree.
Nature watching web cams have become some of the hottest spectacles on the net. What is not to love about a hummingbird mother in the wild raising babies with an up close and personal window into their world? Millions world-wide have discovered the awe and joy that comes with experiencing a major look into the miniature world of nature's parenting. In fact, the SW Florida eagles, Ozzie and Harriet were featured in the movie Mom's Night Out starring eagle watcher Patricia Heaton.
They become virtual relatives, loving and caring people cheering on their "adopted" offspring. The delight of watching nest construction to the pride of the "fledge" of the babies brings joy to those who dedicate their time to "nesting" along with them. Sadly, there is the occasional heartbreak, observing birth to flying over the rainbow; any way you look at it, a pure front row window into nature in the raw.
We are thankful that BH has decided to share her wonderful experiences with nature's phenomenon with the world via her web cam, focused directly on Bella's chosen nest location.
Rush on over to Bella's at Bellahummingbird.com. She's there to amaze you. Videos of Bella, the hummer twins, and Rosey are located at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bellahummingbird-s-show/highlights and http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/58938856/highlight/603320.