Even though my last post indicated that with Melinda's oral chemo meds we've got little cause to go to the cancer center, she went in Monday, and again today (Thursday) for IV fluids. The fluids help her feel better and lessen some of the common side effects of many of the chemo drugs, and she has a standing order to get them whenever she wants. So for that reason we've been in twice this week.
And interestingly, among the cancer patients in various stages of their disease there are little touches of the natural world. Many of the walkways and halls are lined with photos and paintings of the natural world, and the cancer center (former Tucson General Hospital) is built around a couple atria open to the sky in the 2 story building, as well as a small garden of native plants on the east side of the building. But on Monday we had a front-row seat to the best show there - an active hummingbird nest just outside our window! In a little nest about the size of a computer mouse were 2 little beaks sticking out, waiting for mom to return with a handout. They were tiny, and at about 10-12 feet away were hard to spot, and from her private bed that day, Melinda wasn't high enough to see them over the sill. So I excused myself and drove the 2km home to get camera and 300mm lens, with about a 1cm extension tube to get a little closer. With that combo, I was able to get a few good shots, though in the late afternoon light, I used the on-camera flash to illuminate the scene. Fortunately the flash seemed to have no affect on mom...
In the 2.5 hours we were there, mom came back every 30 minutes or so to feed the youngsters, regurgitating the nectar and bugs she'd been gone collecting. Interestingly, mom looked to be a rather drab green, and I was surprised to see how the flash lit up her iridescent feathers! Still, it is tough to identify the female hummer without the more showy colors of the male. If anyone has a firm identification, click on my name at upper right and drop me an e-mail, or let me know in comments! While mom was out feeding, the chicks were mostly quiet, but I was surprised to see in the photo at right when one of them stretched its wings, vibrating them just like mom while flying. From the quill feathers seen, it has a ways to go before it comes close to flight. I like the expression on the nest-mate being squished during this wing-stretch! Another time there was a mourning dove in the area, and mom spent a lot of time driving it away. Otherwise it was out feeding, returning on a regular basis.
Today's trip in for fluids, I brought in a few prints to distribute to the nurses to show the patients more than anything else. Well after observing the hummers from a distance, they were all totally amazed that I was able to record these scenes. I guess any attempts with their smart phones were doomed from the start - what this application needs is a real camera! Will keep an eye out in the future for these headlining stars of the cancer center...
Addendum: It looks like we have a winner! Workmate Steve avoided any heavy-lifting today and searched for images that matched mine on the interwebs, and came up with a Broad-billed Hummingbird! Since the females are so drab (sorry girls!), it is tough to match coloration against most of the photos on-line, but on this identification, the dark patch and bright line over the eye match up nearly perfectly. Tucson marks the northern limit of the Broad-Billed Hummingbird's range - so glad to find out who our star attraction was!
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