DES MOINES, IA—Area grandmother Eileen Lankford, 82, announced Tuesday that a hummingbird, which she has reported seeing on multiple occasions in the past several weeks, was back at the birdfeeder outside her kitchen window.
"My little friend was back today," said Lankford, who has spent the past three afternoons periodically looking out the window to check if the hummingbird had returned. "We had a very nice time together."
In a series of voicemail messages and notes to her children, Lankford informed them that the hummingbird stopped by her home at approximately 12:05 p.m.
"I was waiting around all morning, and then suddenly there he was," Lankford said. "I thought the little fellow would fly off right away, but no, he decided to stay for a meal."
Lankford ate a chicken salad sandwich wrapped in a napkin while watching the bird.
Referring to the hummingbird as her "special visitor," Lankford said she was impressed by the bird's appetite, noting that he "certainly liked to get his tiny beak in there." Lankford was reportedly delighted that the hummingbird found the food to be appetizing, though she did express concern that the small creature might choke from eating so quickly.
Lankford confirmed it was the same hummingbird that had made previous appearances at the feeder, claiming she recognized it by its handsomeness.
"He is quite dapper, and has such a lovely color," Lankford said.
The hummingbird sighting is only the latest in a series of events that has prompted Lankford to compose handwritten letters to her loved ones. In the past year, the grandmother of six has alerted her family members to such occasions as the blooming of the tulips, the blooming of the azaleas, the first dusting of snow, and her birthday.
Although she called it "a shame" that the hummingbird could not stay at the feeder for more than 15 minutes, the recently widowed Lankford acknowledged that the busy bird probably has a family of its own it needs to care for.
"He flaps his wings so much," Lankford said. "I don't know how he does it without stopping to take a nap, my goodness."
Lankford, who received the birdfeeder as a Christmas gift from her two granddaughters in 2005, said her late husband John used to fill the feeder every morning with an artificial nectar solution of water, white granulated sugar, and red food coloring. According to Lankford, a neighbor boy she hired to mow her lawn now performs the task, though on several occasions he has accidentally spilled the solution on the ground.
"I just wish he'd be a little more careful," Lankford said. "That food is for the hummingbirds, not the bees and the ants."
Lankford has experienced a number of other setbacks with the birdfeeder in the past few months, including mold forming inside the apparatus, and the wind blowing it to the ground. The feeder, however, sustained no permanent damage, and was able to be restored to its proper position three weeks later when Lankford's son visited to install her bedroom air conditioner.
The hummingbird's appearance marks the most notable event to take place in Lankford's backyard since May, when Lankford reported seeing a cat she didn't recognize.
Although the small bird has not returned since Tuesday, Lankford plans to remain stationed in the kitchen until two hours past dusk each night to ensure that she does not miss it.
"I hope he comes back again soon," Lankford said. "Every time I see him frolicking around, it makes me smile."
"He's so full of life," she added.