Anna's Hummingbird nest re-use

Many years ago, a Hummingbird built a nest in the light in my entryway. When the babies left the nest, I decided to not remove it, and sure enough, it was re-used the next year. That year, somebody (probably my idiot lawn guy) removed the empty nest, but another was re-built on the same spot. There have been a few years where no birds used the nest, but last year and this year, I have had birds using it.

So, the question is: Who is using it over and over again? Is it the same mother? Is is the babies returning to where they were hatched, or is it completely unrelated birds, who happened upon a good spot (and, it is a pretty good spot…)


Hummingbirds generally live 3-5 years in the wild, but have lived up to 12 years in the wild and 14 years in captivity. So it’s possible the same female was coming back year after year to renest, especially if she found that nest location was successful.

Beyond that it’s hard to say whether the young fledged from that nest are coming back, or it’s unrelated birds.

I have sometimes forgotten to put out the hummingbird feeders in time in the spring. So I’ve seen hummers circling around where the feeders should be. (If it’s possible for a tiny bird to have a puzzled look, this would be an example.)

They do come back (even the early ones that are just passing thru) to the same spots they’ve been before.

We routinely have a pair of cardinals nesting to one side of our house. I like to think that these include descendants of an original pair from 30+ years ago. (But cardinals are more of a year-round thing here.)

Saw a “live” episode of Nature on PBS last week where one of the field reporters was doing a bit on a hummingbird nest (I think in California). He showed how the current nest was built up on top of the old nest. And this on a wisp of a low branch.

So I guess this is a thing.

(BTW: Found a cardinal’s nest on the other side of my house yesterday with 2 chicks in it chirping their lil’ brains out. I will call them Jeff II and Britta II.)