Hummingbird family captivates Langford seniors lodge

A hummingbird mother feeds her babies insects and nectar. (Contributed/Gary Wilson)A hummingbird mother feeds her babies insects and nectar. (Contributed/Gary Wilson)
A hummingbird mother feeds her babies insects and nectar. (Contributed/Gary Wilson)A hummingbird mother feeds her babies insects and nectar. (Contributed/Gary Wilson)
Two hummingbird babies preen in their minuscule nest in a Garry oak tree in Langford. (Contributed/Gary Wilson)Two hummingbird babies preen in their minuscule nest in a Garry oak tree in Langford. (Contributed/Gary Wilson)
A hummingbird mother with her babies. (Contributed/Gary Wilson)A hummingbird mother with her babies. (Contributed/Gary Wilson)
A hummingbird mother hovers over her babies. (Contributed/Gary Wilson)A hummingbird mother hovers over her babies. (Contributed/Gary Wilson)
Gary Wilson at work photographing the hummingbird family outside Ted and Giselle McMaster’s apartment. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)Gary Wilson at work photographing the hummingbird family outside Ted and Giselle McMaster’s apartment. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
One baby hummingbird stretching her wings on the first day out of the nest. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)One baby hummingbird stretching her wings on the first day out of the nest. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)

Hummingbirds are famously quick and small, with heartbeats that race 1,220 beats a minute when they’re flying. But manage to catch a view of a nest, and there’s ample opportunity to view the tiny birds at rest.

That’s what happened outside Ted and Giselle McMaster’s third-storey apartment this spring. A hummingbird family nested in the branches of the mature Garry oak tree framed by their living room windows.

The minuscule nest is about two inches wide, nearly impossible to notice, perfectly camouflaged with lichen as it is until the thumb-sized mother bird returned to feed her babies. McMaster spotted their impossibly small heads and long thin beaks peeping over the edge of the nest.

He excitedly spread the word to their neighbours at Alexander Mackie Lodge in Langford, and their apartment became a hot spot for a few weeks until this Monday when the babies flew the roost.

One neighbour, Gary Wilson, is an avid photographer who can be found almost every morning at the Esquimalt Lagoon during the early morning golden hour. He identified the family as Anna’s hummingbirds, a species that stays in the area year-round. A migrating species, the rufous hummingbird, are said by birders he knows to be a more aggressive type. When the rufous birds, so named for their red colouring, come to the area, the Anna’s retreat to higher zones to avoid the bullies.

Wilson was delighted to have his favourite bird roosting so close to home. He guesses he took 500 photos through Ted and Giselle’s window of the small family.

He’s got photos of the mother hovering over her nest, regurgitating food into the small bodies of her young, and was there on Monday when the babies ventured out of their nest for the first time.

The small bodies flitted about the branches, alternately resting and testing their wings. The mother stayed close to observe, preening and bringing one last snack.

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