Spatuletail Hummingbirds (Happy Birthday to Me)

The Marvellous Spatuletail is a beautiful, miniature sized (15 cm long) hummingbird that is only found in a specific part of my home region of Amazonas and nowhere else in the world. Being first officially reported to the Western world in 1825, it is actually now considered to be an endangered species. It’s unique in the bird world because it only has 4 feathers in its tail and the male has two long outer feathers that gracefully cross each other and both end in vibrant blue-violet disc shaped feathers. It’s extremely rare and I have had the privilege of seeing it in its natural habitat, the forest edges of Río Utcumbamba.

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Where the hummingbirds live.

I say all this because today is my 26th birthday and the memory of watching this tiny bird that basically nobody else in the world gets to see is one big metaphor for how lucky I am to be here.

Not only am I lucky to be alive and celebrating another year but celebrating here in Peru as a Peace Corps volunteer. I’m fortunate enough to explore another country, language and culture and privileged enough to be able to share my experiences with people back home in real time (praise be to the internet Gods). About 200,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps since 1961 and I am happy that one day I can come home and be a part of that legacy too.

It’s not always easy being away and I still have those days where I wake up and stare at my ceiling and say, “What are you doing here, son?” But then there are always those days when you’re doing something and you know that when you go home in 2 years, you’ll have that experience all to yourself because nobody else will have been fortunate enough to have seen what you’ve seen or have done what you’ve done. And how can you not enjoy your born day when you meditate on a thought like that?

So happy birthday to me, ya’ll. Here’s to another year of spotting hummingbirds.

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