Become a Human Hummingbird Feeder

Yesterday I was writing at the sunny little table on my deck, surrounded by grape vines mixed with crocosmia (working from home is one of the joys and terrors of the writing life–it’s pleasant, but distraction abounds…).  An Anna’s hummingbird kept buzzing close to my head, then flying a few feet away to feed from the crocosmia.  I plucked a sprig of the flower and put it behind my ear, and for the rest of the morning the hummingbird visited repeatedly–the breeze from her loud thrumming wings rippled through my hair and once her tiny wing feathers actually brushed my cheek.  So uplifting and magical!

Occasionally she would hover a few inches away, and look me in the eye.  I have seen this behavior in so many wild animals, both birds and mammals.  It is our movement that first alerts a wild animal to our presence and inspires caution, then if we are still for some time and the animal decides to stay around, it will check us out by looking into our eyes–I imagine them to be sizing us up, just as we are doing when we look another human in the eye.

Try it yourself if you have hummingbirds in your yard or park.  Tuck a stem of red crocosmia, or fuschia, or hotlips salvia, or scarlet runner blossom (…) behind your ear, sit quietly with a book, and see what happens.  Heighten the attraction by wearing a red shirt. There are so many small ways to cultivate intimacy with “everyday nature.”

For more, see my earlier post on hummingbirds and homegrown hummingbird feeders.


  1. WOW! What a great idea! I can’t wait to try this.

    Once I had just refilled a hummingbird feeder and was getting ready to re-hang it, when its regular customer flew up, too impatient/hungry to wait, and started drinking while I was still holding the feeder in my outstretched hand. My arm sure got tired holding that thing up – but it was so worth it.

  2. How wonderful! It reminds me of an essay from Barbara Kingsolver — she would put birdseed on the brim of her hat to attract chickadees just so she could walk around the garden with birds on her head! I appreciate the idea of eye-contact with animals…I once found a hummingbird that was trapped inside and lay exhausted on the floor. I hand fed it drops of sugar syrup until it revived, but I’ll never forget crouching down on the floor and looking into it’s huge eyes. Such communication…

  3. Sue Truman

    Lyanda, I am a musician and “crankie” artist in Seattle. I read Crow Planet and it inspired me to sew a crankie about crows. I have pasted the you tube link below. I hope you enjoy it. Sue

  4. I was recently on the Sunshine Coast of BC (north of Vancouver, accessible via a 40 minute ferry ride), and the area is full of hummingbirds. While I know we have them in and around Vancouver, I haven’t seen as many… but I’ll definitely try this trick. Absolutely love the idea. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  7. Jo Kirschner

    Love this post! When I garden, our resident Anna’s hummers flit around me. One greets me at the front door in the mornings when I bring in the paper.

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