facebook pixel

Do Hummingbirds Reuse Nests?

by on February 07, 2014

Anna's hummingbird nest. Photo: Jim Mullhaupt
Anna's hummingbird nest. Photo: Jim Mullhaupt

Heidi Becker from San Francisco sent in a question about an unfortunate tree pruning accident:

Gosh darn it, I’m doing some heavy pruning on a tree and discovered a humming bird nest too late. A branch fell from above and the branch with the humming bird nest sprung and the eggs flew out, and broke. So sad. Will the hummingbirds re-use the nest? I’ve completely ruined their habitat. No more cover, no more tiny twigs to perch on. Now I have a half pruned tree and don’t know if I am suppose to finish it. I’m bummed. I love those tiny guys.

If this occurred within the past two and a half months (December- February) the hummingbird is most likely an Anna’s hummingbird, the earliest to breed in California, said Juan-Carlos Solis, director of education at Wildcare.

Some birds will return to the same nest and add to it from season to season, or from one clutch of eggs to the next. But hummingbird nests, made from sticks and cobwebs, are very fragile and often do not last past a single breeding season. Anna’s hummingbirds in California do not reuse nests but are known for “recycling” their own nest material or pirating that of others to rebuild an entirely new nest.

“It’s good practice to put the nest back as close to its original location as possible, even by wedging the branch in with the newly pruned branches,” said Bob Power, the executive director of Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society. “This may provide a valuable resource for the next hummingbird starting a nest in the area.”

Because it is early in the breeding season, the hummingbird may attempt a second nest possibly in the same garden, close to a good source of nectar and insects. But it’s unlikely the hummingbird will nest in exactly the same spot as before.

“If the nest was that severely disturbed, most likely the bird will try to re-nest somewhere else,” said Michael Lynes, executive director of Golden Gate Audubon Society.

Wildcare recommends trimming trees and shrubs between mid-October and the middle of January if possible. And as a reminder, check any branches or cavities for nesting birds or resting wildlife before pruning.

Read more about hummingbird nests here

A bird? A bug? Something strange in the natural world nearby? Ask us and we’ll find the answer!

Most recent in Stewardship

See all stories in Stewardship


Pungh0Li0 on February 7th, 2014 at 11:11 pm

Hummingbirds certainly do reuse nests. I have had an Allen’s nesting in my rosebush for years, laying eggs from October until June each year. Normally, she has 2 nests that she alternates between for each brood. She’ll repair a nest for reuse several times.
The nests are not fragile at all. They are very sturdy. Spiderwebs are one of the strongest materials in nature (and they don’t use twigs).

Pungh0Li0 on February 7th, 2014 at 11:23 pm

I should have mentioned, my hummingbird is in Southern California. But, same principle.

sue on April 29th, 2014 at 11:44 pm

here in north Tucson. I had a nice team of arborists and tree removal service help me saw off branch which had clinging to it, a strong hummingbird nest attached with 2 eggs. We carefully wove the mesquite branch into a yew shrub providing strength from the winds and shady from the sun… about 15 feet from where the tree stood. The mother flew over it a hundred times frantically looking for her nest, yet never found it. Talk about sad…for nearly 7 hours, she flew to the exact spot where the branch on the tree was, high above the ground but at the exact spot. She would fly around the house, each time expanding her search, yet despite flying over it and on the side of it, just couldn’t locate it.. I tied my dog’s colorful red and purple bandana onto a branch very close to the nest and then put a cotton ball over the eggs once the sun set, hoping the eggs wouldn’t get cold. my question is, how long can the eggs remain healthy without the warmth of the mother to incubate them?

Egg on My Face on February 29th, 2016 at 1:48 am

I had a hummer, probably an Anna..it’s late February, build her nest in my potted ficus tree that’s on my decking. I had accidently spooked this her the night before…heard her dash off. I forgot about the hummer and was unaware of the nest until the painters moved the potted ficus & I came face to face with the nest…luckily it was empty…no broken eggshells in sight. Because I felt it best the hummer NOT nest in that area, I did brake off the branch and removed the empty nest…for which I feel very sad…bad.The reason I did this is because a few years ago one of my other ficus trees was moved and tiny broken egg shells were littered upon my deck after builders moved it to do their work. It was so sad to see the broken hummingbird eggs on my deck…I just hope this little bird found another place…a safe place…to make her new nest & raise her little family …sigh.

Joan Bell on April 16th, 2016 at 10:27 am

A hummingbird actually built a nest in a h ook meant for a hanging basket last year.I left it there hoping theyv would come back this year, however the nest is starting to fall apart. will they rebuild? I enjoyed seeing little hummers when they hatched.Was really hoping they would return.

Tammy Merriam on July 11th, 2016 at 6:57 pm

We live in ST.George, Utah and every year for the last 5 years we have baby and mamma hummingbirds, they have a best a nest on my chimes on my patio, I go out there and just talk to them they don’t scare away the know no way would we ever hurt them, we keep then well fed too!!

Becky on January 18th, 2017 at 9:48 am

I have a Hummingbird write now in her nest from last year.

Heather on March 19th, 2017 at 7:46 am

We live in southern California and last March we had a hummingbird nest on the Christmas lights hung under the eves of our patio. We accidentally knocked it down and found 2 babies! We put them in a small container with shredded paper towels on out patio table and the mama found them. It was the most amazing thing to watch so up close. I’d sit there and she’d come right up and feed them! Over the next 3 months she built 2 more nests on our patio. This December another nest was built on our patio and the mama has reuses the nest twice now! We have a 2nd set of babies in the same nest right now. So amazing!

Moe on April 11th, 2017 at 1:08 am

Here’s an IDEA…Do Your Serious Pruning in FALL! NOT SPRING!

Monika Holke on April 18th, 2017 at 10:01 pm

I have had a humming bird nesting off my kitchen window since February, she has 2 nests and is now reusing the top nest. This will be her third set since early February.

Monika Holke on April 18th, 2017 at 10:02 pm

My location is in Riverside Ca

Diane on April 26th, 2017 at 8:58 pm

An Anna’s built a nest on top of our windchime during the winter. It got hit with lots of rain and wind a number of times. The nest looked finished but she never had eggs. It’s been a couple of months since the nest was abandoned and it was dilapidated and all coming apart. To my surprise, today I discovered it was being revisited and repaired. I don’t know if it’s the same Anna’s, but she has made some fast repair work. What a joy to watch again! (So. Calif.)

Diane on April 26th, 2017 at 9:08 pm

Btw, the windchime spins in fast circles with our heavy winds. I’m amazed that it doesn’t deter the hummer at all. She just keeps working away while it spins her around. Wheee!

Kim on September 2nd, 2017 at 10:44 am

I live San Clemente, CA and have a 30ft. Ficus tree that has been home to many Hummingbird families. Unfortunately I have to remove it cause the root system is undermining the houses near it, bad! I hate to do it but I must, when would the best time/month to remove it?

Leave a Comment





Bay Nature