My Birdy Little Secret

You know, I’ve admitted a lot of things to you guys on this blog.

I’ve told you I sometimes watch trashy reality TV, I’ve talked about my insecurities about blogging in general and blog conferences in particular. I’ve described my awkward exercise adventures and the fact that I sometimes have quite a mouth on me... Basically I have no shame, I guess is what I’m saying! But I hesitated about sharing this next thing with you gentle readers, because frankly, it’s embarrassing. And kinda dorky.

The truth is, for the last few months I have developed a wee bit of an addiction. There is an internet celebrity that I am completely obsessed with, and sadly I have even involved my children in my stalking activities. Maybe if I come clean about it with all with you, I can let go of my secret shame and get on with my life.

See, here’s the deal: it’s a hummingbird.

A hummingbird named Phoebe who lives in California and has a webcam trained on her nest 24/7. Yes, I have spent more time that I am willing to be honest about staring intently at my computer screen watching a dang bird sit on a nest! To be fair, she IS currently sitting on two eggs, so you know, that definitely ups the excitement factor, right? Phoebe is a Channel Island Allen hummingbird who nests annually in a rosebush in the front yard of some guy in Orange County.  She has been laying 4 to 5 clutches of eggs each year for several years (and there is even a chart that details this. I wish I was kidding.) The website has been up since about 2007, but I just discovered it over the Christmas holidays. I have always loved birds, and God knows I spend a ridiculous amount of money on feeders and sunflower seeds just so I can look out of my window and watch them hop around and eat– which is basically all they really do, let’s face it. But even I am surprised at how entranced and involved I have become with Phoebe! (It’s even worse than my recent tablescaping fixation.) And apparently I am not alone– Phoebe’s website has 1842 subscribers, and has had 2,264,892 total views from people in 186 countries– even though most of the time? She is basically just doing this:

Although sometimes she flies away, I guess to go get something to eat or go shopping or whatever, so then I sit there in front of my computer screen and stare at this:

Riveting, right?!

Well, I have no explanation except to say that when I first discovered the website, I was just fascinated by the fact that I was actually getting to see a real hummingbird that close up. One time when I was a little kid in Arkansas I found a tiny abandoned nest, about the size of a golf ball, and I couldn’t believe how perfectly formed and delicate it was. The website says that those two eggs in Phoebe’s nest are about the size of Tic Tac breath mints– can you imagine? Also the first time I started watching the Phoebe-cam, there was a lot of excited chat going on about how a lizard had just tried to attack the nest– (Oh yes, there’s actually a live chat screen on the website. And a comment section. And FAQ and a gallery of photos. That’s right, people from all over the world are actually signing in and talking to each other about the daily activities of a hummingbird. This just gets more and more embarrassing for me, doesn’t it?)

So anyway, the chat lines were jumping– someone even edited the lizard footage, titled it “Godzilla Attack!” and put it on youtube! (And yes, I watched it. Twice.)  For whatever reason, I just got hooked on the idea that I could actually observe this exquisite little creature as she went about her daily activities, like fluffing her nest and rearranging herself over her eggs, and flying around with her wings making this weird little mini-helicopter whirring sound… There’s something so endearing about it all, and I found myself getting drawn into Phoebe’s daily struggles and the dogged determination she has to get those eggs hatched and safely rear her fledglings. There’s always the threat of predators–her last two eggs apparently became hors d’oeuvres for a big honkin’ crow– or windstorms that could dislodge the nest. One time one of her eggs had gone past it’s hatch date and she figured out it wasn’t viable, so she actually picked it up with her pointy little beak and gave it the heave-ho over the side of the nest! Phoebe don’t mess around, honey.

As long as I’m confessing here, I should also tell you that the Phoebe-cam has served as a gateway drug for me.  I began to click on some of the links at the bottom of her page and found myself watching Molly and McGhee, the owl couple and their owlets. They are a little more hard-core than the hummingbirds– they even have a warning posted on their site that reads: Advisory: This is a live feed of a Wild Barn Owl and family. Owls are carnivores. They hunt, kill and consume small rodents and other small animals. This is nature and contains scenes of the cycle of life which may occur at any time without warning. (They’re not kidding either! I kinda lost my warm fuzzy feelings about the owl family when I watched the parents ripping a chipmunk to shreds for dinner… I also learned that owls can shoot poo out of their behinds with amazing velocity and range. Eww.) There is actually a list on the site of 30 different live-streaming nest-cameras. I dabbled a little with the kestrel nest box and the eagle-cam but I always came back to my nest of choice, plucky little Phoebe and her Tic Tac eggs. The gestation period is about 17 days, so in about two weeks I may be sending out birth announcements.

Well, there it is. My embarrassing little secret is out. I feel so freeeeeeee!

And because I am crazy about you guys (and nerd-ery loves company,) I am now going to share Phoebe with all of you. Please at least pretend that you find her website somewhat interesting, so I will not feel any weirder than I already do. And if this leads to the harder stuff, like the stork nest in Spain or the Quacker-Cam/nesting wood duck in Wisconsin, I will take full responsibility for being the one that gave you that first little taste for free. Your secret will be safe with me.

And here’s Phoebe:

23 Responses

  1. jonny

    OK, this is weird. At least one womin is looking to this humming bird for a “sign.” and which she actually recieved!!

    Couldn’t locate the Godzilla Attack! YouTube video, though = /

  2. jonny

    OK, just remembered a band I liked in the late eighties/early nineties, L.S.U. (Lifesavers Underground), had a song called Hummingbird. Even though the lyrics were in English on the liner notes, it is opera-etticly sung in Italian, French and German.

    “How beautiful is the hummingbird,
    How vile the lusts of man”

    Curiously enough, the band is also from Orange County.

  3. delightedabroad

    At first it sounds a bit weird, yes – but then, after a second (or third)thought there is something absolutely positive about it: you show interest in nature; and it is shocking when you hear how many people don’t have ANY idea about animals these days. Little children around here could tell you cows have lilac coats…(due to a well-known chocolate brand). So I guess ‘bird watching’ is at least instructional :D

  4. auburn60

    I definitely had not consumed enough coffee yet this morning to be subjected to ‘poo-shooting owls’. I may have to go to back to bed.

  5. meb

    I laughed so hard reading this – because I can so relate. We have a bird who has been taking pieces from my hanging basket to make a nest somewhere. The basket hangs right outside the window by my desk so I will just sit here and watch him, completely losing track of the time. Now I’m off to see what Phoebe is up to. Can’t wait for the birth announcements.


    OK – 1st -i’m accumulating waaay 2 many log-in names/passwrds 4 my comfort. 2nd -YOU PEEPING TORI (as i hurry back 2 your blog to click on the link!)Are they not the most facinating creatures? Ive never seen their nest, but my gma had a feeder, claimed they came back on the same date every year, left on the same date, all that stuff. She was religious about them! Howz Betty? Have lost 20 lbs so far -yeeeeooowww! Glory to Jesus for that. Forgot to take pics of Daddy’s art -will do that this evening & send to your email.

  7. meb

    Delivered my mother says the same thing. They “always” came around my Opa’s birthday and left around my Oma’s birthday.

    And now I can’t tear myself away from watching this thing. Thanks Tori. :-)

  8. bettyrwoodward

    Thanks Tori now you’ve got us all hooked. Pheobe is so sweet. At least for us in the UK there is quite a bit of the day when the screen is just dark due to the time difference so we do get some work done then!

  9. Chick Voice

    Once again, we are clearly long lost sisters (or should I say birds of a feather?) I also endlessly watch birds (and blog about it). I have an entire section of posts called My Tiny Garden where I talk about each and every species that visit my back yard. We drew hummingbirds last year for the first time and was happy beyond belief. The only say thing is that I have ruined my manly Husband who know also knows each bird and calls me when he spots a good one while at work!!!

  10. jonny

    Well, Chick Voice, your husband clearly lover and appreciates you!! = )

    Finally found the “Phoebe Allen hummingbird” YouTube clips. Hopeless to search under “Godzilla Attacks!” I wonder where should took, what she did with the egg she removed during said attack!? Man, she doesn’t have easy, that’s for sure!


  11. delightedabroad

    I happened to watch an amazing Youtube video:


  12. MostlySunny

    Now, the leaves around Miss (Mrs.) Phoebe’s nest – are they normally like that or is that Phoebe poop decorating them? She is a beautiful bird! The eggs are gorgeous!

    I have some robin eggs under the eve of my deck – just waiting for the babies to hatch! God’s creation is truly magnificent to look at! Springtime just keeps it coming…

  13. chillybean

    Tori, I totally get this obsession. This past January, I was obsessed with watching a bear named Lily. She lives in Ely, MN. They had a web cam in her den to be able to catch the birth of her cub. It was fascinating. I was showing it to my 8th grade students. They were enthralled. We realized the next day that when we went to lunch – the birth happened. We missed it! There were plenty of youtube replays of it though. Pretty cool.

  14. Tweets that mention » My Birdy Little Secret | babybloomr --

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tori Taff. Tori Taff said: I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I'm kinda stalking an internet celebrity… […]

  15. LindaB

    Phoebe is cute…….and a devoted mother, as long as the eggs hatch in a timely manner. I don’t dare go the webcam and see her ’cause after you got me hooked on Tablescape Thursdays, and putting serum on my eyelashes twice a day, I just can’t fit in another time-consuming activity! But I’ll tell ya what “bird” I’d like to have a webcam on 24/7 and just see what he’s been doing, if anything——-my Congressman!!! Boy, talk about your webcam warning!!! Not that I’m upset with him right now or anything. I’m just sayin’…..

    Whoops, gotta go finish some chores around here so I can have Thursday free ALL DAY! Thanks anyway, Tori, for the heads up. (And hey! I’m pretty sure my eyelashes have grown some!!!! Really!!)

  16. bettyrwoodward

    delighted – that was an amazing clip. Thanks for sharing it. Also there were birds at the beginning!

  17. jonny

    And I believe he did have wings… = )

    By the way Tori, the pic of Trust God or Go Crazy is now the wallpaper for my phone. FWIW.

  18. jonny

    OK, delighted, and anyone else interested for that matter, I think I finally have a wrap on that poem I re-discovered a few days ago.

    At The Feet Of The Name

    So many paths that one could take
    To be where Truth rests
    So many choices one should make
    To be where Kindness thrives

    So many, so busy, missing the best part
    Struggling to be something they ought not
    With fingers absently grasping the fringe of its cloak
    I patiently wait, listening at The Feet of The Name

    A desire to be more than right
    To be where Peace rests
    And embrace the Essence of Light
    To be where Love abides

    So many, so busy, missing the best part
    Struggling to be something they ought not
    With fingers absently touching the weave of its cloak
    I patiently wait, listening at The Feet of The Name


    OK – I lied about taking the pics – have gotten so caught up in the twitter thang & Joe Jonas, i see that my next exciting thing will be to buy a computer – i believe i am becoming addicted to this. there is too much going on. am pinning a note to my shirt, (for real) to take pic when i get home. man, i gotta get a computer. now i am starting to look at facebook. that will take yet another year, probably!

  20. LindaB


    (Nice song, Jonny. You’re such an artist type. While we’re bird watching, eyelash obsessing, and folk art browsing, you’re writing songs to change the world…….or at least, a life. Jonny, you’re too good for us! ;))

  21. jonny

    Well, LB, you shouldn’t have encouraged me! Based on some feed-back from yet another friend in Germany, and my continual uneasiness with one part, there’ve been a few more potentially “life saving” changes! And this time when I punched out the Kindness and Love lines, this blog came to mind! Love Rules!! Oh, and some day I’ll figure out how to be like the rest of the crowd! Still working on that one, though = /

    The Breath of Light

    So many paths that one could, or could not take
    To be where Truth rests
    So many choices one should make
    To be where Kindness thrives

    So many, so busy, missing the best part
    Struggling to be something they/we ought not
    With fingers absently grasping the fringe of its cloak
    I patiently wait, listening at The Feet of The Name

    A desire to be more genuine than right
    To be where Peace rests
    And there embrace The Breath of Light
    To be where Love abides

    So many, so busy missing the best part
    Struggling to be something they/we ought not
    With fingers absently touching the weave of its cloak
    I patiently wait, listening at The Feet of The Name

  22. karen48

    Sometimes I run across a live feed of an eagle’s nest, puppies, tiger cubs. And sit there and watch and watch waiting for any movement. lol
    Years ago I lived in a mobile home up in IL. We had hedge planted around the trailer to try and keep the wind from blowing the skirting around. Right outside the window where my chair was, some redbirds decided to build a nest and lay their eggs. They had 2 or 3 babies. I can’t remember now. But I watched them constantly. And then one day I spent the whole day at the window watching mom and dad teach the little ones how to fly. They never returned. :-(
    I so enjoyed watching them though.

  23. wendmark

    I would normally say that is so funny, however, truth be know I found my self captivated by the Hummingbird cam! Wendy and I have been trying to attract Hummers into our yard and just haven’t been successful. We get a feed lots of songbirds and finches, but not the desired hummers! Doggonit looking for some help here folks! How do we get hummers?

    Sad thing is we now have a hawk couple around that is keeping even our other wee birds away now! Kind of like your owl cam circle of life here and we appear to be the hunting grounds for them!

    Oh well glad you shared and glad to see all the fellow bird enthusiast around! I wonder if God anticipated that when he created them and if he put that fascination in us when he created us?

    Blessings to all the Bloomrs!

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