Notes from Windward: #64

Hummingbird -- My newest mascot?

      When winter relinquishes her grip on our mountain and the warmth of spring begins I listen for the hummingbirds to return. I was surprised at how early they came this year. I thought they would wait till the night time temps were above freezing more often. The adult and juvenile males come scouting for the best places early and I heard them as I was watering the bulbs. I put up the feeders around my trailer and watch to see who shows up this year. The Rufous' are the first to show and claim the feeders so I move feeders around and add more hoping that the Calliope and Black-chinned will stay nearby.

A Rufous hummingbird

      I feel such joy watching these tiny creatures "fighting" for possession of the feeders or when they buzz me out of curiosity, maybe. So imagine my delight in actually getting to hold one for a few minutes!!

      On a particularly warm day we had opened both end doors of the kitchen. I was getting ready to leave the main dining area when I heard a rather loud bumping/ buzzing noise in the unfinished part of the kitchen. I thought maybe it was another butterfly who'd trapped itself in the bay window since the butterflies are also on their mating flights. I looked and saw this little hummer beating itself against the window. It let me capture it so it must have been very tired indeed (or in shock?). I carefully covered it with my other hand and went outside to let it loose. But when I removed my covering hand it didn't leave!

     So I held it above a table in the sun and let it recover while I closely watched it. It blinked its eyes at me, flicked its tongue and lay still. I couldn't feel it breathing or heart beat -- my own was pounding in excitement and awe. I wanted to pet it so much but was afraid that I'd hurt it or scare it even more. So instead I took note of the tiny feathers above it's eyes that aren't much bigger than a period-- . -- and tiny dark lines of feathers on its gorget. So I knew it was either a juvenile male rufous or a female. And it seemed to be studying me as intently as I was it. It kind of nodded its head at me and flew off in the direction of my trailer. I watched for it at the feeder and sure enough it showed up after a bit.

      Now as I'm out watering my flowers or working about my place he buzzes me daily as if to say, " I'm still here." He sits patiently waiting for me to fill "his" feeder and I think to let me see how he's growing into a beautiful example of his species.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 64