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  • This article by Betsy Marston originally appeared in the Jun 21, 2012 issue of High Country News.
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Topic: Culture & Communities     Department: Heard Around the West     Comments: 0

NON-SUBSCRIBER PREVIEW

Wearing hummingbirds

News: Jun 21, 2012
by Betsy Marston

THE WEST

Back in the late 1970s, Doug Weinant, a just-retired range boss in the Crawford country of western Colorado, had the reputation of being a genius with hummingbirds. He and his wife, Alma, who lived in a remote mountain cabin, would put out a bunch of sugar-water feeders in the spring, and dozens of the birds would flock to them. In between their frequent draughts, they rested on the head, shoulders and long arms of Doug, who by that time was bow-legged to parentheses by decades of riding the range. The tiny birds appeared to regard him as a kind of benign hitching post, and no one else ever had as successful a relationship, reported the local newspaper, the North Fork Times. But now technology has found a way to attract a hummer to within inches of your face. California inventor Doyle Doss has created a colorful facemask that incorporates a hidden feeding tube over the nose; he calls it an "eye to eye" Wearable Hummingbird Feeder. The birds quickly learn to fly right up, wings beating at 80 times a second, and drink deep just inches from your face. Perhaps the only drawbacks are the potential for crossed eyes and the need to hold still. It's also pricey at $79.95, from heatstick.com.

ARIZONA

New York Times columnist Timothy Egan recently ripped into Arizona, calling the state "very, very crazy" because "even a spate of recent temperatures in the 105-degree range cannot explain the latest doings of government by crackpots." It seems that the secretary of state, "a wide-eyed fellow named Ken Bennett," began questioning -- yes, once again -- the birth certificate of President Obama and threatening to keep his name off the state's ballot. But in a move that speaks well of some Arizonans, "more than 17,000 people this week put their names on an online petition asking the secretary of state to investigate whether Mitt Romney is a unicorn."

Tips and photos of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write betsym@hcn.org.

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