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A Tale of Hummingbird Etiquette

Artist and writer Beth Surdut listens to ravens and has paddled with alligators in wild and scenic places. She also knows about proper etiquette when encountering the smallest, fastest bird in the desert...

This story starts with bird droppings. But before I go any further, if you have a penny and a quarter handy, please hold one of each in the palms of your hands while we embark on a treasure hunt.

Tiny white bird droppings splashed onto a walkway that led to my front door in New Mexico. Each day, more splotches accrued on the same piece of blue flagstone. So, I looked up.

About six feet above me, on a slim branch of a juniper tree, a Broad-tailed Hummingbird, her weight approximately the same as a penny, had crafted her nest, the size of a quarter and maybe an inch deep. The materials she chose included lichen, leaves, bark, and grasses interwoven with spider webs and lined with what looked like downy milkweed and feathers. Inside were two chicks, each about the size of one of my fingernails.

As the birds grew, .....

To see – and hear – the rest of the story (including the hummingbirds), in Beth's voice, visit Arizona Public Media.

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Listen to more stories about Broad-tailed Hummingbirds:
Western Hummingbirds, East
Hummingbirds See Red

Beth's story originally appeared on February 19, 2016, on Arizona Public Media. Thanks!


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