Hatchlings, Nestlings & Fledglings

Tips for hatchling,nestling or lost fledgling hummingbirds




Tips and suggestions for lost hummingbirds

If a branch has been trimmed with a nest and babies:  Re-attach to another branch in close proximity.  Secure it and be sure it’s under protective cover from weather and predators as best you can.  Keep nest and old branch all together. If you have to relocate nest, be sure that it is relatively close to where it was originally and then you must confirm that the mother hummingbird finds her babies.  Follow the guidelines below.  If you have a gardener that maintains your yard, PLEASE either let them know where the nest site is located or tag the plant asking that it not be disturbed.

IMPORTANT:  Once you have secured baby hummer(s) in nest you must watch for the return of the mother hummer.  That means stay absolutely focused on the nest and baby(ies) using both your eyes and ears. (no walking away) Have a seat for the next 45 mins where you can watch the nest.  The mother’s feeding schedule averages every 15-20-30 mins or 3-4 times in one hour. Have the number of a rescue organization or rehabilitator ready, if she doesn’t return after one hour then call for help and be ready to transport the hummingbird(s). Follow their instructions.


  • Triming:  it’s best not to trim vegetation during nesting season.  Or be very, very careful to observe before cutting. Hummingbirds in some areas of the country begin their nesting in late October, November and on through to June.  They will nest where there is foliage and/or cover. Please be very mindful of these tiny jewel’s habits.  If you have a gardener that maintains your yard, PLEASE either let them know where the nest site is located or tag the plant asking that it not be disturbed.


  •  BABY hummers that have fallen from their nest:  go ahead and put back inside nest, if nest is whole.  Carefully pick up in your hand put back in nest.  If  it doesn’t stay, build another nest with egg carton section or small basket lined with soft tissue then anchor it securely to branch close to original site of the other nest and place the baby inside.  Sometimes it gets crowded and one falls out.  Again follow the IMPORTANT instructions above to confirm the return of the mother hummer. 


  •  A destroyed, broken nest:  you can reconstruct a nest from cardboard egg carton section or strawberry basket lined with shredded soft tissue lining the inside (don’t use cotton balls).  Secure remade nest to the general area found.  Using a plastic strawberry basket can be shaped to fit the area, if there is room to secure in the location.  Line bottom with soft bird nesting material or shredded tissue.  Make from tissue a donut shape to simulate small nest to place baby hummingbird inside. DON’T USE COTTON BALLS, their tiny feet can get caught up & snagged.
  • Again IMPORTANT follow instructions above to confirm return of mother hummer.  Be sure that the babies are nestled down inside below the lip of the newly made nest. 


  • NOTE 1:   The mother hummer will rejoin with her babies & not worry what the nest is made of or whether you have touched them.  She is far more interested in feeding her babies and caring for them. 


  •  NOTE 2:   If the mother hummer does not return in the time frame given (after 45 mins), call your local wildlife rehab organization who could be listed online, with an animal shelter or veterinarian hospital. They may have the contact person or a wildlife center’s number to call for help. 


  •  NOTE 3:  If a hummer fledgling or young hummer is found on walkway away from home and no nest in sight or you find an adult in trouble, CALL immediately for help.  Keep the little creature warm and secure until you can reach someone trained to help.  You may offer sugar water solution for hydration purposes (a 1-4 ratio of one part granulated white sugar to 4 parts water and simmer until dissolved, cool).  Be sure to keep sugar water off feathers.  Wick away immediately with tissue if droplets fall on feathers.  No food coloring necessary.
  • IT’S IMPORTANT TO GET THEM TO THE CORRECT FACILITY ASAP so they can receive the care and food they will need. 
  • DESCRIPTION:  of  a hatchling, nestling and fledgling hummingbird: 1. Hatchling- 1-7 days eyes not open, size of a black coffee bean  2. Nestling – 7-16 days feathering out & eyes open, short beak 1/4″.  Fledgling -16-21-28 days fully feathered, popping out of nest, beak about 1/2″ -3/4″ long.  Close to leaving the nest can sit on edges flapping its wings for 2-3 days before leaving.  Mother hummingbird still continues to feed a week to two after they have fledged.



  •  Hummingbirds  found on ground outside your own yard generally need to be rescued unless nest is located.  Most often sparrows & finches can be placed away from danger and placed close to where found and the parent will find and care for them.  Exception with hummingbirds, it’s best to call your local wildlife rescuer or animal shelter for more advice for specific circumstances. When found in your yard many times the nestling or fledgling can be reunited with the mother hummingbird.  Follow the instructions above or the rescuer can talk you through the steps.