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Never in the history of veganism, has a vegan been so excited about eggs! This, I promise you. As you can see from the series of photos taken today, I had the extreme pleasure to make the acquaintance of one of nature’s foremost architects, the tiny, the talented, the spectacular…hummingbird. Or to be more specific, Anna’s hummingbird, which is one of the most popular hummingbirds in Southern California. Actually, I have told a small fib, for this is not truly the first time I have met my friend, the hummingbird. REWIND.  

We shared a wonderful (for me, at least) interlude about a week ago when this cute little character ended up in my living room pecking herself to death on the large windows that overlook my wildly overgrown garden. Exhausted from her boxing frenzy, she climbed willingly into my hand, where she rested for a good 30 seconds while I stroked her gently on the head. She looked tenderly up at me, yes, tenderly I say…before outstretching her wings and sailing gracefully away, never to be seen by me again. FAST FORWARD.

Or so I thought, until this afternoon when I spied her perched on one of the lower, fragile limbs of my Myoporium laeteum (a big green tree). Having spent an entire two minutes or so with her on our first meeting, I knew her to be the same bird, so my curiosity got the better of me and I moved in for a closer look. Suddenly, I realized she was squatting on the most miniature nest I had ever seen in my life and I found myself entirely overwhelmed by Mother Nature. How could such a tiny bird build such a miraculous little home for her babies? Heck, I can’t even build a house of cards, and don’t even try to have me explain my foray into Popsicle stick architecture. So I decided to go online and see just what her secret is, and let me tell you, I was blown away by what I found. Did you know that the typical hummingbird nest is about the size of half an English walnut shell? The outer part is covered with moss and plant fibers, and is sometimes shingled with lichens, and the rest is made of plant down and spider webs. (Courtesy of http://hummingbirdworld.com/h/nest.htm)

Now I see why she pitched her tent in my yard. I have more spiders back there than there are tarantulas on the whole continent of Africa. And, if you look closely at the photos, you can indeed see the cobwebs woven throughout the nest. They’re also wrapped around the leaves and branches nearest the nest, I suppose as a kind of anchor. And, I’m quite certain there are white dog hairs, interspersed throughout the nest, which she may have harvested from my dog’s favorite blanket. That would explain the intermittent humming-buzz I have been hearing the last week by my back door. So, as ecstatic as I was to find this clever creature perched upon a mass of cobwebs, lichens and dog hair, I was even more delighted to discover her itty-bitty hummingbaby-to-be eggs. Which takes me to my next bit of research. A hummingbaby, when first born, is the size of a plump raisin. Can you believe that? I mean there are raisins that aren’t as small as a plump raisin.

Anyway, I could write a thesis on what I learned about hummingbirds today, but I will spare my readers (all three of you) the scientific details. Just know that I’m on constant, 24-hour patrol over my hummingbird and her microscopic offspring, and I’m a freaked-out mess over the fact that the wind is blowing like a tornado and bouncing my Myoporium laeteum and its delicate cargo all over creation.

Stay tuned to Hummingbird Watch 2008 for evolving events.

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