Nancy L. Newfield has been
watching hummingbirds at her Louisiana home and lots of other places since 1975.
Nancy lost her amateur status years ago, and now writes and lectures on hummers.
She is co-author of Hummingbird Gardens, reviewed
elsewhere on this site. Nancy is also a licensed hummingbird bander and a recognized
authority on hummingbird distribution, behavior, and taxonomy.
Keeping Hummers Close to the Heart
Most of us who love hummingbirds have a plethora of hummingbird items - coffee
mugs, figurines, T-shirts, etc. I have more than my share, everything from Christmas
ornaments to a trash can. Each is a little memento of a special trip, a gift from
a treasured friend, or an icon of hope.
I have rules for my collection, though. No generic Japanese hummers are allowed.
Each image must be an identifiable species and as anatomically correct as possible.
I especially prize an ever growing collection of hummer T-shirts. With wearable art,
I can have them with me wherever I go. I can dream of a long ago experience or an
Several years ago, I was sorting through my dresser drawers, trying to make space
for a few more shirts, when my husband, Skip, suggested that maybe I ought to throw
a few items away.
Skip held up a particularly ragged one, a shirt with an image of a Purple-throated
Mountain-gem on it. The neckband was ravelled, the color faded and the cloth had
pulled away from the still colorful picture. "You really can't wear this one
anymore. Why not use it for a dust cloth?" he said.
I was horrified. Clearly Skip didn't understand that the shirt held fond memories
of the remarkable hummingbird haven, Monteverde, in Costa Rica. It was more than
just a shirt.
As soon as he left the house, I dug out all the shirts. A stunning black one with
a nice Ruby-throat on it fit a little too snugly, but it was a gift from my daughter,
Charlotte. A turquoise blue one from the Rockport/Fulton Hummer/Bird Celebration
in Texas showed a fine Rufous. And a Buff-bellied Hummingbird graced a jade green
shirt from the Sabal Palm Grove Sanctuary. It was autographed by the artist Tony
Bennett. These were not candidates for the trash bag!
Counting as I refolded and stacked, I tallied 35 hummingbird T-shirts - one for each
day of the month, plus a few to spare. But, did I need any more?
Just a few weeks later, I was banding hummers at a public demonstration in Texas.
Across the table stood a rotund gentleman, wearing a really nice T-shirt I'd never
"Where did you get that T-shirt?" I queried.
"I bought it at a little shop in Seattle," he offered. "Do you like
it? I have 45 hummingbird T-shirts!" the gent continued, puffing out his chest
That did it! No longer would I apologize for my excesses. No longer would I hesitate
before adding another artwork to my personal gallery.
Proudly, now I display Keith Hansen's busy design showing all the breeding species
of the United States. It's autographed, too!
Adding a Black-chinned from the San Pedro Riparian Area and a Violet-crowned and
White-eared from the Ramsey Canyon Preserve in Arizona, the collection grew. The
image of the Tufted Coquette from the Asa Wright Nature Centre in Trinidad is four
times the size of the actual bird, but hey, who cares? The "Hummingbird Garden"
design from the Jim Morris Environmental T-shirt Company of Boulder, Colorado, features
a South American Ruby-Topaz, a Jamaican Streamertail, and a Southwestern U.S. Broad-billed.
On the next trip to Costa Rica, I eagerly awaited the stop at the Hummingbird Gallery
in Monteverde. Perhaps I would be able to replace the tattered shirt that indeed
had to be relegated to oblivion. But, alas, it was not to be.
As I entered the shop, a woman was holding up the last bright pink T-shirt with the
Purple-throated Mountain-gem. I could see that it was an extra-large - my size! I
poised ready to snatch it just as soon as she put it down. But, she proceeded to
the register and I had to depart empty-handed.
Oh, well . . . 52 should be enough . . . there's always a hummer close to my heart!
Copyright © 1998
Nancy L. Newfield