Hiding in Plain Sight


While Kongo was getting snowed in on the East Coast and dueling the never-ending polar vortex events in Southern New Jersey things were Springtime busy in Southern California. For the last week or so Mrs. Kongo has been texting about a hummingbird that was building a nest in the camellia bush in the covered entrance just outside the front door.  Kongo got to see the new arrival this morning. 

This isn’t the first time humming birds have nested close to the house.  A few years ago one built a nest on a hanging wind chime that friend Carol from Myrtle Beach left behind on one of her visits.  It housed hummers for two years running and the remnants of the nest are still there.


This little nest has one egg in it.  Mostly hummingbirds lay two eggs but just one is not uncommon.  It’s about the size of a jelly bean.  The nest is made of bits and pieces of moss and soft plant material and stitched together with spider webs.  They’re amazingly sturdy.


Kongo is pretty sure that this is an Anna’s hummingbird.  Not only are Annas the most common in Southern California, her coloring is right.

Mrs. Kongo wondered why the bird would pick such a conspicuous place to nest.  Ernesto the gardner comes every Friday to mow, cut, and trim and work his blower all over the area.  The mailman comes every day and UPS and Fedex comes several times a week.  (Once Mrs. Kongo figured out shopping on the internet there was no holding her back)

In a conversation with daughter-in-law Emily who lives in Boston (and doing a bit of nesting herself) Mrs. Kongo asked if she thought the bird knew that the UPS man came every day.  (Mrs. Kongo often ascribes purely human attributes to non human and inanimate things…like if the car doesn’t sound right or the computer does something she doesn’t like that just means it has to “rest.”  So it is perfectly natural for her to wonder about whether hummingbirds know about UPS.)

Emily glibly replied that she was sure all the animals in the neighborhood knew that the UPS man came every day.  Emily knows about these things.  A few years ago early one New Year’s morning she scared away a prowling bobcat who was trying to turn Kongo’s pet koi into a sushi snack.  This qualifies her to know what the animals in the neighborhood know or don’t know.

Mrs. Kongo also wondered why there was no male hummingbird about to help or was this a modern hummingbird who had decided to nest and have a baby on her own?  (There she goes again…).  Actually male hummingbirds are not too helpful in these endeavors.  Once they’ve launched the events that culminate in a new little nestling they buzz off to another bird feeder and leave the female to do all the nesting and tending of the eggs.

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Hummingbirds are remarkably tame when nesting.  This mom won’t leave the nest until you get very close and then she’s back as soon as you move off.  Kongo took these pictures with a 500mm telephone lens from about 30 feet away on the other side of the front courtyard.  When the hummingbird notices that you’re in the area she will absolutely freeze her motion and remain absolutely still.  If you didn’t know they were there you would never see them.

When the hummingbirds in the back yard were ready to leave the nest a few years ago, we actually got to see them leave for the first time.  One of them flew down to a jade bush under the Myrtle Beach wind chimes then made it to the edge of the pool.  This caused a great deal of anxiety on the part of the Kongos.  The monkey had the pool scoop standing by in case the little guy fell in.  The mother kept hovering about the young one until it finally took off and flew across the pool at a height of about six inches, the mother chirping alongside the entire time.  They safely arrived in the bushy vines on the back fence where they camped out for several more days before finally moving on.

Mrs. Kongo has decided that this hummingbird just knew this was a good place to nest.  She’s right about that.

Later today Kongo will mix up some hummingbird food and hang the feeder near the nest so the new mom won’t have to go hunting all over the place for nourishment.  Full service accommodations at the Kongos.

Travel safe.  Have fun.

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