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"Daniel's Tree Is Her Home" by Lisa Davis

By Meanderings BLOG
Posted: 06/10/2021

I try to be very quiet as I slide open the heavy door to the balcony, and then the screen door. I move very, very slowly, but when I look toward the tree, the hummingbird has flown her nest. It is the female who builds the nest, sits on her egg, and raises the young. After mating, the male takes no more responsibility. Since yesterday, Mama bird lowers her long, curved beak into the nest, feeding her baby the nectar she collects in the neighborhood.

This is the fourth year that a hummingbird has built a nest in the potted tree on my upper balcony. The tree is a cherished memory of my son Daniel, who started it during his last year of life. It has grown to about nine feet, and the nests are always in the upper branches. I sit down quietly in the chair furthest from the nest, and wait for Mama to return. When she does, she buzzes around the balcony, then zooms directly toward me, hovers inches from my face, and then flies away. Her message is pretty clear: “Get out of here; I want to feed my baby." I sit still like a statue, and out of the corner of my eye, I see her return to the nest and it looks like she is feeding her baby.

Hummingbirds are the smallest migrating birds, live about five years, and sometimes longer. They remember people, say the experts. I wonder if it is the same bird who has visited me for four years, and builds nests in Daniel’s tree. She skipped last year, the year of the pandemic. Smart bird!

Hummingbirds have very long, deeply grooved tongues to hold the nectar they collect from blooms around them. They also eat tiny insects. They love colors, and red is their favorite. They can fly not only forward, but sideways, backwards, and for a short while, even upside down.

These little creatures migrate as much as 4,000 miles, and can fly 500 miles without stopping.  Their wings flutter eighty times per second and make a humming noise - hence the name. The male is the colorful, iridescent one, while the female needs to be less conspicuous as nest sitter. Like bees, they are excellent pollinators.

Does my resident hummingbird choose my balcony because it is somewhat protected? Does she remember me? Every year I take a few photos with my iPhone, but I cannot get very close. The first year, my son-in-law took some wonderful close-ups with his telephoto lens.

I have not kept track of the times of her visits, and I have not added a hummingbird feeder. I like to let nature take her course.

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