I looked up and saw it. A small, delicate nest perched on a wind chime. In it, two little long-beaked babies sat, watching me quietly. Hummingbirds!
How had this whole operation been going on above my head for so long without me seeing it? The adult bird must have come and gone, collecting fluff and twigs. Then she sat on the eggs, while I went in and out of the door. Now the babies were fully feathered and bright eyed, almost as big as their mom.
I obsessively watched them for the next few days. I worried if I didn't see the adult. When one baby walked out onto the wind chime, I kept checking on it until it returned to the nest.
One night I came home from work and checked on them as usual. One bird was gone from the nest! I anxiously looked around on the ground, fearing the worst. Not finding anything, I went to turn on the sprinkler. When I came back, the next was empty. I missed seeing the final bird take its first flight by only a few seconds.
When hummingbird babies leave the nest, they don't return. The parents may use the nest the next year, but often it is so fragile that it falls apart over the winter. I knew the babies were around somewhere, but they were hard to see, although I kept looking.
I felt sad. I missed them and wondered if they were all right. Although I knew they might leave the area, I bought a hummingbird feeder and hung it up in a tree.
The next day, a flash of brown caught my eye. One of the babies swooped down onto the feeder. Then it disappeared into the woods.
While I still wish I had gotten to see their freedom flight, I was glad to see the little bird flying around. It made me happy.