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UCLA’s hummingbird whisperer

There’s a hummingbird haven at UCLA. It’s lovingly run by the “hummingbird whisperer”— assistant researcher Melanie Barboni. 

If she doesn’t feed them in a timely manner, the miffed hummingbirds will fly into her office to “yell at me. … They are so demanding, but they know I will give them everything,” she explained with a smile.

Is it a bird or is it a flying baby octopus? Today Department of Awesome Natural Wonders is marveling at a hummingbird that appears to be part cephalopod. This tiny wonder is the Costa’s hummingbird (Calypte costae), native to the American Southwest and the Baja Peninsula. When it’s time for the male of this shiny species to pitch some woo at a female, they flare their violet facial feathers and dance about in mid-air in an elaborate courtship display. Their purple facial feathers suddenly look like an array of tiny tentacles.

“Spring is the time to nest for the Costa’s hummingbirds, before the desert gets too hot. Both males and females are looking for a partner, but it’s up to him to impress her. Though his back shimmers with green, it’s not until we get her point of view that we see his true splendor. He flexes the iridescent feathers of his mantle until they become a glowing mask of violet.”

Watch this clip from the upcoming PBS Speical ’Super Hummingbirds’ to watch the male Costa’s hummingbird showing off his finest moves:

[via Geekologie]