As long as the hummingbirds had not abandoned the land, somewhere there were still flowers, and they could all go on. -Leslie Marmon Silko
Welcome to the world, little hummingbird hatchlings!
Aren’t they cute? Well, okay, they’re in that awkward state…bumbling and naked and temporarily blind. But if you close your eyes and think hummingbird, can you visualize the possibilities?
Given their wrinkled, raisin-y state, I suspect the first egg hatched on Friday and the second hatchling followed suit on Saturday. Just think: As these tiny creatures performed their quiet bit of magic, the Women’s March was unfolding on a very grand scale!
If my math calculations are correct, and the magic holds, these hatchlings will become iridescent-feathered, gossamer-winged fledglings by Valentine’s Day.
Speaking of which: I’ve named them after my dear friend Carl and his wife Mary– lovebirds who were married for 58 wonderful years before she passed. Hummingbird images appear in several cultural traditions–symbols of devotion and joy, the stitching together of heaven and earth–so this seems to me a wonderful way to commemorate their enduring relationship and eternal love.
P.S. Rest assured, I use my zoom lens to gather these snapshots. I would never touch the hummingbirds or their nest! I observe and record them from a respectful distance…
No way would I want to interrupt this magic show!
Meet Aryana, the beautiful hummingbird that built her nest in our front yard fuchsia. Here, the stuff of magic: spider silk, cotton batting, and iridescent feathers. Other stories, too, if you examine it closely.
Right before Christmas, Aryana set about building this nest. She pressed nesting materials into the bottom with her tiny feet, and used her torso to help give it a cup-like shape.
It took mama hummingbird ten days to construct her walnut-sized nest. Soon after, two tiny eggs appeared.
I like to think Aryana nests here because Chez Shore is peaceful, and because our gardens are filled with nectar plants and flowers. But the truth is more nuanced, and likely more practical. Instinct no doubt led her (and previous mama hummingbirds) to this very spot because it blends in with the foliage and flowers, and the roof overhang helps shelter her from predators, heavy winds and rain.
It’s not easy to snap photos into that dark corner –and through the kitchen window, at that. But the opportunity to witness firsthand this unfolding wonder, well. The payoff is huge. I’m learning to rely less on my camera’s Auto Mode, to angle the camera just so and wait patiently for her visits.
Earlier this week, Aryana’s babies broke free of their shells.
Wendy hatched on Sunday; Peter showed up on the scene a day later. I only know this because, while she was foraging for food in one of our flowerbeds, I stretched myself across the top rung of a 6-foot ladder and zoomed in.
Click, click. I pressed the shutter button a couple of times, and then clambered down. I never, ever touch Aryana’s hatchlings, never disturb her nesting habits.
“Miracles on a cloud,” someone called Aryana’s newborns. I can’t remember who, or I’d give them credit. But it sounds about right to me–you, too?
I know it won’t surprise you to hear that I love talking about these winged beauties. I point out the nest to visitors, post hatchling updates on Facebook, Instagram and (less often) Twitter. So indulge me a little while longer, please, while I tell you a related story.
When the dishwasher repairman showed up on Monday, he’d already spotted the little hummingbird nest, camouflaged as it is in that dark, leafy corner.
When I expressed surprise; his smile reached from the corner of his mouth to his eyes. “I always pause to pray before I knock on a client’s door,” Mr. Nguyen told me. “I pray for peace. I pray for my client’s happiness, and for my own.” He went on to say that his customers are sometimes very angry when he first arrives: about being inconvenienced; about the news of the day; about the fact that he’s running behind schedule because he’s spent “too much time” helping another customer. “If I find something beautiful in nature before my clients open the door, I am happy. My smile is God’s smile, and that encourages them be happy, too.”
So magical, the ways in which we’re introduced to kindred spirits. New friendships are carried to us on iridescent wings, and nestle into the cushy-soft spaces of our hearts.
Breathing in, there is only this moment…
Breathing out is a wonderful moment.
If we are not fully ourselves,
truly in the present moment…
We miss everything. –Thich Nhat Hahn
It was still dark this morning when I snicked the front door open. Just a sliver, mind you–I didn’t want to startle the remaining hatchling, but after two solid days of pounding rain and intermittent winds, I worried that she might be cold and wet. But there she was: cozy as could be inside her dry little nest. How wise Walela was, to have built their cushiony home under a roof overhang!
(This set of two pictures comes from yesterday’s photo session. I didn’t get pictures of Jennifer in the nest this morning.)
Whew, what a relief! With a steaming mug of vanilla-hazelnut coffee at my elbow, I posted a blog update, in which I predicted she’d fledge sometime today.
Not an hour later, my husband called me to the door. The nest was empty! I grabbed my camera and snapped a picture. Just one, inadequate though it might be, to honor the nest that served Walela and her brood so well.
I lowered my camera to my side, and stood silent for a few minutes longer. And here’s where the magic happened, as it so often does when we’re willing to stay in the moment…
Jennifer returned to the fuchsia plant and perched herself on the slimmest of branches! She must’ve sensed Walela’s whirring approach, because with one eye focused on me, she turned her head and opened her beak.
I didn’t capture the feeding itself, but seeing as how I’ve posted so many pictures and videos, here and on Facebook, I’ll bet you can easily imagine it in your mind’s eye by now.
A small part of me is sad, of course. Who wouldn’t be, after cheering them on, for days on end? But more so, I’m celebrating. It rarely happens that both hummingbird hatchlings survive from egg to fledge, so I’m thrilled to know that Sunshine and Jennifer beat the odds.