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A Bit Too Previous

H. H. Sheldon
Publication Information
4 (July-August)
From Field and Study

A Bit Too Previous

Spring fever, as it is commonly called, when a fellow just feels like breaking the traces and getting far away from the strenuous wear and tear of civilization, I believe comes with the first hint of spring to every nature lover who is closed up in an office.

It comes in many different forms. Sometimes it is a smell, sometimes a picture, or a look into the pages of an old field book. Or perhaps a day's trip thru the foothills will bring reminiscences of the freedom and serenity of getting far into the mountains away from the city's strife. But here is an instance when spring came, as it seemed to me at the time, in midwinter. The end of February being a holiday, I was looking over some bird skins in our log cabin at San Anselmo, when the familiar squeaky notes of a Hummer brought me to the door to see what might be doing. Everything was still, and seeing some Juncos close by, I imagined I heard them and not the Hummer, their notes being at times very much the same--especially when the Hummer is poised in the air at some flower uttering those sharp short notes. However I leaned against the door and waited. Back came the little green Anna with her mate. They dropped to the ground under a laurel, the male spreading out his gorgeous neck feathers and making quite a love scene with Anna. Finally like a shot he went his way, and she lost herself ten feet above the spot in the laurel. I walked over to the tree and after a diligent search discovered her sitting on a frail little nest about half built. She soon became restless at my gaze and left the nest, but soon came back with a large piece of cotton, tucking it under her breast with her bill and pulling it vigorously with her feet into place. Noting how roughly she bustled around in the nest, I was somewhat astonished when later in the day I peered into it and saw a set of eggs, one dark in incubation, and, as it proved, this must have been laid about the 12th of February.

I have never come across anything just like this in the nesting habits of birds, but the Hummers being early nesters and on account of the rains, I judge in this instance it was a case of sit close to save the nest and contents. Hence the one egg incubated and the other perfectly fresh.

Being the earliest date at which I have ever found a Hummer nesting, I feel safe in saying that San Anselmo has a record for early Hummer's nests, and at the same time the discovery has relieved me of the indescribable craving for spring.


San Francisco, California

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