The "OM" Story
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Black-chinned Hummingbird Nest in Welcome sign


Hummingbirds are known for their ‘site fidelity.’ I was excited to learn of a Black-chinned Hummingbird nest in its 5th season. That meant she had made her journey safely to Mexico and back to Cottonwood, Arizona, returning to nest in the same spot 5 times! And I do mean the same exact spot – the base of the letter ‘O’ in the arch of the welcome sign over the front door. The hummingbird took them up on their offer of hospitality. How extraordinary!


I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. I heard she was working on her 2nd clutch. When I arrived she was busy refurbishing her nest, carrying soft white plant down in her beak.

Black-chinned Hummingbird in nest with material in beak

Zooming in with my telescopic lens, I couldn’t believe my eyes. She had ‘decorated’ her nest with dried pansy flowers visible as purple patches along the top.

"Purple Pansies"

I knew that hummingbirds camouflage the outside of their nest to make it blend in with their environment. The best example I ever saw was light aqua patches of lichen that the Black-chinned in Texas hill country had applied to its nest in the live oak tree. (See ‘She sings with Hummingbirds’ under ‘My Writings’) I had also seen white paint chips on a patio nest, but I had never heard of one using flowers – and purple ones at that! What an artist! As my friend said, “A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.”

There were indeed three pansy-filled pots out in front of the house where she was nesting, with multiple colors to choose from. But our little lady chose only the purple. She is clearly attracted to that color; her male has a row of purple feathers below his black chin. Awwwwh! It's a love story!

Black-chinned Hummingbird (male)

Looking at the details of the nest I could see how she had carefully wrapped it in spider web to secure it and to keep it snug and together. The spider webbing would also stretch and allow the nest to expand with the growth of the chicks! Ain’t nature grand!!!

Detail of nest of Black-chinned Hummingbird showing spider web, purple pansies, and camouflage

As I photographed her, I became aware of the dot-com within the welcome and focused in on that, too. What a match for my website, :)

Black-chinned Hummingbird nesting in Welcome sign, DOT COM

"Hummerlady Dot Com"

Thus a theme and variations began. I played with the words within the word "Welcome."

Black-chinned Hummingbird perched on ME within a welcome sign

Then it struck me that it was also an ‘Om’! I returned with the idea of creating that image….picturing the birth and life happening there….within the Om. Om is the mystical or sacred syllable and sound that is chanted in Hindu and Buddhist prayers and mantras, the symbol for creation itself. As one young woman so beautifully put it in her own words," 'OM' is a vocal connection to your surroundings and to the spirit. It is about finding your own pitch to resonate to the universe and letting it sing back to you." I love it!

OM - Black-chinned Hummingbird nest in a WELCOME sign

"There's No Place Like Om"

This is how I get high on hummingbirds and nature’s secrets! Sufis call it ‘God intoxicated.’ Yes!

And did she raise a successful brood? Yes!

Black-chinned hummingbird nest with chicks in Welcome sign

"The Miracle of Life Unfolds"

Addendum: She didn't return the following year—it would have been her sixth.

Last spring (2010) I received an exciting phone call from the owner of the "Welcome" sign. He had moved a few streets away and had reattached the sign. A black-chinned hummingbird had started building a next in the bottom of the "O" again. Wow! There were no flowers in the nest, although there were petunias and not pansies in the yard this time. Could it be the same one? or an offspring? No way to tell for sure, but most likely it was on of her grown female chicks who knew it as "home."