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Hummingbird Spotter

My grandmother was an avid bird-watcher,
with a set of binoculars and a well-thumbed bird book resting on
the kitchen windowsill out at the farm. She had several types of
feeders around the porch, including two hummingbird feeders hanging
in different spots. No matter how many times she’d seen one,
every time a hummingbird would fly up she’d inhale sharply
and say in a low voice, “Oh, look at that! Isn’t it
beautiful?” Gramma loved seeing the birds hold, motionless
except for a blur of wings, as they drank out of the feeder, their
long slender necks pulsing as they swallowed rapidly.

When we moved to Texas we set up several birdfeeders around the
house at prime watching spots, and there’s no one in the
family who enjoys them more than Cora. At first, the large feeder
hanging not far from a living room window drew the largest avian
crowd, and Cora would lean against the window, breathing foggily as
she watched the cardinals and robins hop around eating. Then the
feathered gang found the one hanging outside our breakfast room,
and every morning we had prime seats for the show; everyone would
arrive and feast, singing up a storm and throwing leftovers down on
the ground for the doves and squirrels. We’d also hung two
hummingbird feeders up in the same place, but for some reason the
word never spread and the feeders stayed unused.

Until a few weeks ago.

At first, a couple hummingbirds stopped by
for our flowers, and checked out the feeders as an afterthought.
Word seemed to spread, though, and soon we had regular visitors at
our little rest-stop. Showing the birds to Maddie and Cora was
hard; the birds are so small, and move so fast, that unless you
know what you’re looking for you miss them. But both girls
finally caught glimpses and now enjoy seeing the little birds drink
up in our side yard, Cora even more than Maddie.

Cora’s chair faces out the window, and she’s constantly
got one eye on the window searching for her feathered friends. As
soon as one shows up, mostly likely all but hidden behind the
feeder, Cora will shriek, “Huh bah! Huh bah!” and point
vigorously out the window. Sometimes no one else will see it and
we’ll say, “Oh, no, Cora, no hummingbirds!” but
she’ll insist until we notice that by gum, the baby’s

A few times we’ve gotten to hear those tiny wings beating, so
fast and furious were they flapping, and Cora thought that was the
coolest. Thing. Ever. Hummingbirds are very territorial, and
we’ll often see two of them zipping amazingly fast through
the side yard, swooping up and over as they conduct their own
high-speed chase. And Cora stays riveted for every second.

I don’t know what she loves so much about the hummingbirds;
they’re certainly cool, and we’ve got a couple
different types coming through, one of which is an amazing green
color. And I know Cora’s always loved the outdoors,
preferring to dig in the dirt or stare at flowers over playing
indoors. Maybe she just sees something worth making note of,
something worth taking a second out of her day to acknowledge its
loveliness. All I know is that every time she sees a hummingbird,
the delight’s as fresh as the first time she ever spotted

Just like someone else I used to know.


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