How Do Hummingbirds Reproduce?

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Although hummingbirds are usually solitary and fiercely territorial, males seek out females and perform elaborate courtship dances to get the females to accept them. After mating, the male leaves the female to build a nest, incubate the eggs and feed the young.

Males usually puff out the feathers of their chest and then toss their head from side to side to show females they are willing to mate. Alternatively, there are several mating dances or acts that males perform. Males spread their tails and show all parts of their body and then zip back in forth in front of the female. They also perform courtship dives, where they go as high as 60 feet in the air and then plummet down, pulling out of the dive only inches above the female. In addition, male hummingbirds can form a group called a lek, where they serenade females to try to win their attention.

Females signify their acceptance by perching on a branch and spreading their tail feathers. After mating, the male leaves. The female builds a nest not much bigger than a ping pong ball out of leaves, lichens and spider web silk. Her two eggs are the size of jellybeans and are incubated for 11 to 17 days. After the eggs hatch, the mother feeds the nestlings small insects until about 21 days later, when they are able to fly.