Tiny bird a big deal at local nursery; Lucy makes her annual return

Lucky the hummingbird nests at Shorty's Garden Center in Vancouver. She's been doing so for the last four years. (KATU Photo)

You may think you're seeing things when she zips by your head on the way to the fuchsia plants for a sip of nectar.

You'll know you're not when you see her at one of her nests, stamping and stomping fibers and moss into the sides, getting it ready to protect her eggs.

And if you've been in Shorty's Garden Center in Vancouver in the last four years, it's probably something you've seen many times.

A lot of Shorty's customers come for a view of "Lucy," the Anna's Hummingbird, as much as they do to pick up a bag of bark dust.

"Oh yeah. Absolutely. I love Lucy," said Barbara Thime.

Her husband John is right there with her.

"We’ve been coming here for a number of years. And it seems like she sets up in different spots. We've never seen her make a nest in this new spot. Maybe the wiring gives heat or something."

This year, Lucy has made her first nest on the electric cables strung above the main cash register.

She'll make three more between now and July, laying two jelly bean sized eggs in each, and when the babies hatch 19 days later, she'll teach them to fly while she works on the next nest.

"That seems to be her favorite thing, to nest on top of light bulbs, electrical wires, extension cords. But she'll build in other places too," said Rob Sculley from Shorty's. "For some reason she decided that being inside here was safer. And being as close as she can possibly be to people is safer. Probably more protection from her natural predators, she doesn't feel a threat from us."

Lucy has made a home here since 2015, scaring off the male hummingbirds after they've done their duty.

Sculley shares a story about a customer who came to the check-stand with a plant, asked if it was good for attracting hummingbirds, and Lucy swept down and started drinking nectar from that very plant.

Not surprisingly, the customer bought the plant, and so did the next person in line.

"The ones around my house are pretty skittish, so I'm impressed," said customer Alan Trenary. "Now if you could just get her to come and land on your finger. That would be a show stopper."

Lucy hasn't gone that far yet, but Sculley has pictures of her babies on his finger.

"It’s not uncommon for us, especially if they get too low to the ground, we can take them and move them by hand. I’ve done that a couple of times.," Sculley said. "They're too young to have a fear of humans. To be able to watch the whole process from beginning to end is fascinating."

But it's a process that won't last forever.

Lucy has been making a home here for four years. Typically, hummingbirds will live 5 or 6 years, maybe 7.

"Mom has everything at her fingertips here. She's landed on something and decided it was a pretty efficient way to do things. Maybe she'll pass that on to one of those babies," said Sculley.

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