Meet UCLA assistant researcher Melanie Barboni, who has become well known for the tiny birds that visit her feeders outside of a Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences window. She’s known on campus as The Hummingbird Whisperer.

Every weekday, Barboni welcomes clouds of these “fairy” birds to her office window with nectar she mixes from large bags of sugar and water. In a frenzy and flash of iridescent greens, blues, reds and purples, the birds flit around four 80-ounce feeders that hang outside the windows of her ground-level office. If she puts her hand on the rim of a feeder, they will perch there in fond recognition of the human who feeds them…

The strong bond these birds have developed with her over two years is mutually binding. So entranced is this scientist with hummingbirds that “I cannot go to a place where they are not there,” said Barboni, who was born and raised in Switzerland where hummingbirds are nonexistent. “This is cheesy, but I have seen them help people. They make my life happy. Having a crappy day? Who cares — there are hummingbirds around,” she said. “Having a good day? Hummingbirds make it better.

Related reading: How to Create a Hummingbird-Friendly Yard, which includes flower recommendations and other tips. For a feeder that’s easy-to-clean-and-refill, we like the Couronne Recycled Glass Hummingbird Feeder. There’s also a dye-free sugar and water recipe here.

Next: Hummingbirds fly, shake, and drink in slow motion, Hummingbird hatchlings in their nest with mother Rosie, and What Happens When You Put a Hummingbird in a Wind Tunnel?

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