Like many bird lovers, Melanie Barboni started with putting one hummingbird feeder out by her window. She hoped that some hummingbirds might come by so she could watch and photograph them. What happened though from when she hung up that first feeder to now, is astounding.
“I have two hundred of them that I’m watching everyday,” Barboni explains and then proudly adds, “and it’s growing.”
Barboni is an assistant researcher in the UCLA Earth, Planetary and Space Science program. Her job is to study hummingbirds outside of her office window. The job that she has now, has become a childhood dream come true. When she was growing up in Switzerland where there are hardly any hummingbirds, Barboni had an intense interest in the birds. “My dearest dream as a child was to see hummingbirds. Imagine my joy when I found out that my next job assignment would bring me to Los Angeles, where hummingbirds live year-round,” Barboni says.
Now known as the hummingbird whisperer, Barboni says that each bird has it’s own unique personality. She can recognize many and has given them names. “Emeraude, Marshmallow, Comet, Stromboli, Stardust, Zircon, and Milk Way are just some of the names she’s given the birds.
In order for the birds to stay alive, Barboni explains that they need to eat 8 to 10 times their weight per day. The birds have such a high metabolism that they need to eat all day while flying from flower to flower. As Barboni looks out her window at all of the colorful humming birds she joyfully says why she loves her job.
“They make my life happy. Having a crappy day? Who cares? There are hummingbirds around. Having a good day? They make it even better.”
As if the whole world would agree with her, she points at them and says, “I mean just look at them. It makes me happy.”