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Friday, April 24, 2009

Expando-Nest (April 24, 2009)

I’m back to babble about our hummingbirds again. (In case you haven’t read my other two blog pieces on them, there are two baby hummingbirds outside our back door, and I’ve been obsessed with them since the moment I discovered the eggs four weeks ago.) I just can’t help it. I’ve been captivated by these birds because I’ve never before seen hummingbirds hatch and grow. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that the birds double in size in a matter of days, so the rate of change is very different from that of humans. That difference has me spellbound.

A few minutes ago I took this photo of the birds. There are two of them stuffed into the nest, and they barely fit. No wonder Mama has to make a nest that can expand. On their first day the birds looked like grey cotton balls with beaks. But now they look like mature hummingbirds, even though they are only thirteen days old. It’s incredible how much they have grown and changed since the first day I saw them. The birds are almost the size of the mama hummingbird now. (See photo from two blogs ago.) Wow.

According to what I read online about hummingbirds, at about three weeks old they will start testing their wings and will fly away. That’s in about a week. I’ll be sad not to see them anymore, not to be able to peek at our tiniest residents any time I want. But I’ll try to appreciate my brief time with them as a small present packed with gusto. My brief time with the birds is a lot like the hummingbird in flight. You have to watch closely and appreciate the experience for the second or two you see them, because in the next moment then they are off in a blur of color and energy, spinning through the sky toward the next flower.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Basket of Birds (April 12, 2009)

(Try double-clicking on this photo to see a larger version.)

Today was Easter. Yesterday’s gray skies and drizzle gave way to a warm, sunshiney day today—very fitting for a day about renewal. Everywhere I looked, there were signs of Spring happiness: kids hunting for Easter Eggs, flowers blooming like crazy, birds chattering. After returning from the park this afternoon, I caught sight of the hummingbird’s nest in our back yard. I’d first spotted it about two weeks ago and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. And who could blame me? Birth and new life are inherently exciting. The magic grows tenfold when the expectant mommy is a hummingbird—a creature so small and yet so fast, elusive and mysterious. For the hundredth time since discovering her nest, I peeked at it, wondering if the mama would be perched atop the two eggs, or if she was out shopping for fresh dinner fixings. Mama was gone, but something about the nest looked a little different. Something tiny was poking out the top of the nest. Was I imagining it? I had to find out.

Standing atop a kitchen chair, careful not to touch the nest, I moved leaves aside. I tried to take a photo of the birds, while maintaining balance and holding the leaves out of the way. My usual juggling act. Yes, there were two tiny somethings in the nest. It looked like a puff of gray fluff, but upon closer examination, I could make out two beaks, and still-shut eyes. Adult hummingbirds are small, but you haven’t seen small until you peer at newborn hummingbirds. These tiny babies must be smaller than a marble, and each weighs only a third of what a US dime weighs! Seeing them was simply amazing.

It’s been a long time since my Easters have involved true surprise, the way kids experience Easter, hunting around their homes for a basket of goodies from the Easter Bunny. So to discover today that the soft basket of eggs in our vine had turned into a basket of baby birds was a very thrilling Easter surprise. They may have hatched yesterday (who knows?), but I saw them for the first time today, on Easter, a day about life, hope and celebration. Yep, that works.