Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tiny guests move into swinging home

Spring is the time for new beginnings, and one of the most ubiquitous signs of spring is nesting birds. They build their homes in a variety of places: trees, under the eaves of roofs, and even in houses provided by helpful humans. But one set of parenting birds in 1990 built their home in a most precarious  place  — on top of a wind chime.

Arnold and Arlene Schiller first noticed the pair of Rufos hummingbirds fluttering around the porch of their home on Southwest Hailey Avenue in Pendleton in early June. The nest, built of spider webs and grass, was perched on the top of the wind chime, where it swung freely in the breeze. “That nest must be on there pretty good because the wind blows it around like crazy. They must like the swinging,” said Arnold.

Usually, hummingbirds are a frenzy of activity, flying upward, downward, backward and forward on wings that beat more than 70 times per second. On June 22, 1990, the female hummingbird was firmly planted on the nest, which the Schillers said contained two or three navy bean-sized eggs. Bill Jacobson, biology instructor at Blue Mountain Community College, said the birds sometimes will have two broods, each with one to three eggs, which hatch after a 20-day brooding cycle. Rufos hummingbirds, which usually breed and nest in the forest or on brushy slopes, winter in the southwest as far as south central Mexico.

The Schillers said they hadn’t changed their lifestyle much since the arrival of their tiny guests. They put up a feeder, and they didn’t let kids come up on the porch. And, of course, they kept the cats away.

“They really are a lot of company,” said Arlene. “They will fly up and look though the window at us.”

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