Hummingbirds do not nest in boxes like songbirds, but they do construct tiny nests in the crooks of branches. They sleep in those nests while nesting, but otherwise sleep perched on a branch. There are commercially available synthetic branches that mimic the ideal situation that would encourage a female hummingbird to build her nest.
Hummingbird Sleep Habits
Hummingbirds move very quickly and their body systems must function at an extremely rapid pace in order to support them when they are awake. When hummingbirds go to sleep, perched on a tree branch or a cactus tubercole, they enter a state called torpor in which all of the bird's systems slow down to rates that would make it appear that the tiny bird is dead. Because a hummingbird uses the energy it accumulates throughout the day so quickly, this deep sleep allows it to conserve energy.
A female hummingbird builds a nest by collecting soft materials such as lichen and moss. In a residential area, she might gather tiny pieces of cotton and even dryer lint for her nest. She then gathers spider webs to line the outside of the nest and create a sort of elastic containment system that allows the nest to expand around the growing hummingbird chicks.
Requirements for a Nest
According to Shaw Creek Bird Supply, hummingbirds prefer to build their nests in very sheltered locations out of the way of strong winds that could blow the nests and the baby birds to the ground. The female selects a strong forked tree branch or a stable, sheltered ledge on which to build her nest, according to Bird Watcher's Digest. The nest is usually high off the ground to discourage predators.
A New Nest
If left intact and untouched, a nesting female may return to the same nest the following year and the year after that. She may build another nest alongside the previous nest. Because hummingbirds may return to their nests, it is important that nests found in trees or under house eaves be left untouched. According to World of Hummingbirds, while the birds will not be able to smell that a human has made contact with their nest, predators will.