Instagram is awash in famous animals, from Marnie the Dog and Grumpy Cat to an adorable assortment of hedgehogs and prairie dogs and everything else you can think of, including a white fox. And then there is Tracy Johnson and her beautiful hummingbirds.
Johnson’s delightful Instagram features a remarkable cast of hummingbirds, each captured in the sharpest detail. More impressive are the slo-mo videos that capture the tornadic beating of their wings. “There’s something about [hummingbirds] when they appear because they’re so unexpected and they’re so fast,” she says. “They make this dazzling appearance and brighten your day, and then the next thing you know, they’re gone.”
Johnson works as an executive assistant by day, a singer-songwriter by night, and a self-proclaimed “hummingbird paparazzi” during the moments in between. She started snapping photos of the birds about a year ago, posting her favorites until friends complained about the deluge of hummingbirds in their feeds. Johnson created an account just for the birds and has racked up more than 40,000 followers in just six months.
The Anna’s, rufous, and occasional black-chin hummingbirds that fill her feed flock to two feeders that hang in the backyard of her home in Livermore, California. The birds have no problem letting her get within arm’s length, and the most trusting of them perch on her fingers and even her toes as they slurp syrup from a feeder Johnson holds in her hand. She’s even named some of them, with Merlin, Morgan, Dottie, and Zeus making regular appearances in her feed.
Johnson credits the success of her Instagram to people’s fascination with these marvelous, almost magical, birds, which few people ever see in such detail. That’s prompted a few arguments in the comments among people who wonder if Johnson isn’t using a little digital trickery to make the photos. Johnson insists the birds are real, and notes in her profile, “If I could do animation I would animate tiny dinosaurs landing on me instead of birds.” The occasional troll aside, Johnson couldn’t be happier knowing her feathered friends bring such joy to people. “I don’t know how I ended up being the crazy bird lady, but it’s hilarious that I am,” she says.
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