Melanie Barboni, an assistant researcher at UCLA’s Earth, Planetary and Space Science department, is known as an expert in geology and volcanic activity among her colleagues, but those who haven’t worked with her before know her only as the “hummingbird whisperer”. She has always been fascinated by the tiny birds, and after moving to Los Angeles, she has nurtured a colony of over 200 hummingbirds right outside her office window.
Growing up in Switzerland, a country with an almost non-existent population of hummingbirds, Melanie Barboni admired the colorful birds in books, but dreamed of one day seeing them up close, so when she learned that her next job assignment would lead her to Los Angeles, California, where hummingbirds live all year round, she was overjoyed. She has spent the two years since developing a colony of 200-plus hummingbirds right outside her office window, by hanging four nectar-filled feeders for them. Melanie has gotten so close to her hummingbirds that she “cannot go to a place where they are not there”.