Stuffed Birds

“... the hummers perched, bills up as if posing for somebody to take their picture; others waited with fanned tails or outstretched wings for the right moment to fling themselves into the air. I didn’t know where to look first amidst the reflections of bodies and beaks, plumage and prisms, and worst of all, reproachful stares, thrown back and forth by shiny panes; captive in a house of mirrors ...”

Victorian Glass Dome


“... exotic birds, sitting on a branch under a high, slender glass dome that rested on a wooden base. On the highest twigs perch two tiny birds, barely the length of my pinky finger, with long, sleek bills and iridescent plumage. The object is very old, but because the glass protects the delicate creatures, their feathers sparkle and shine as if just recently caught ...”

John Gould

“... Did you ever hear of John Gould?” Professor Finch’s fingers rummaged around in the inner breast pocket of his jacket. I shook my head. “You would like his masterpiece: A Monograph of the Family of Hummingbirds. It has three-hundred- sixty marvellous hand-coloured lithographic plates.” His tongue made an appreciative clicking sound. “He was a pioneer in ornithology ...”

René-Primevère Lesson

“...The man who had the idea to name the little hummers after an European noblewoman was René-Primevère Lesson, a French physician and zoologist, and I definitely envy him. He sailed around the world from 1822 to 1825 with a scientific expedition and collected all kinds of natural specimen. Supposedly, he was the first westerner ever to come across a bird of paradise ...”

The Paintings of Martin Johnson Heade

“... The romantic creations of Martin Johnson Heade,” the professor said as we followed him through the corridor that was papered with paintings of sparkling mini birds courting lavish orchids in tropical settings. “Unfortunately, I can't afford the originals, as the upkeep of this building is getting increasingly costly, but these are excellent reproductions ...”

Frida Kahlo's Hummingbird Necklace

“... But at the end of our little stroll lurked the next shock: the portrait of an earnest woman with thick eyebrows, wearing a dead hummingbird on a thorn necklace. “Frida Kahlo,” the professor said. “Fascinating artist, very familiar with pain.”
“Interesting,” I said, scratching my shoulder in an attempt to hinder Sweet Pea from whizzing towards the picture ...”

Sah Sen

“... Their portraits showed no realistic details... Stripped of their charm and sweetness, they appeared severe and mystical, like they were privy to a world of secrets. What a different way of looking at the creatures I had got to know so well.
“The name means hummingbird in the West Coast Native language,” the professor said. “Sah Sen is the messenger of joy, the bringer of love ...”