The Happiness of Hummingbirds
Neary Lagoon, Santa Cruz, CA
Ahead of me on the cement pathway was a woman gesticulating upwards excitedly. She was clearly trying to show the two women nearby something unique and interesting in the trees.
I scanned the bare branches intently as I walked closer but I saw nothing. Whatever was there was hidden and relatively stationary since most birds or other creatures would have fled immediately. Was it a roosting owl or a hawk? Very possibly, I thought.
When I reached the small group I asked what all the fuss was about. She simply exclaimed, “Hummingbird nest!” Even with a mask on I could tell she was smiling broadly, completely delighted by what she was witnessing and with the opportunity to share her joy. I was elated too, as I had never seen a hummer’s nest.
Searching above, now with some idea of what I was looking for, I pretty quickly focused in on the tiny bird and nest. The nest was about five feet overhead in the fork of several branches. It was shaped like a small round sphere and had a tiny Anna’s hummingbird settled on top.
I would never have noticed it without someone showing me where to look. It was so small and well-camouflaged that it was nearly impossible to see. Around the top were soft fibers and fine hairs probably made of spider web threads. The outside was decorated with small bits of green and yellow lichen looking like confetti glued to a ball, allowing it to perfectly blend into the complicated pattern of branches, buds and shadows.
I was able to capture several photographs from a few different angles. When I came back by the nest on my way home, the wind was blowing hard and the branches swayed and shook in the breeze. But the hummingbird sat firm and resolute, calmly protecting her eggs.
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