Monday, September 1, 2008

Home for the hummers

Certainly did not take long for a handful of
hummingbirds to find us! I noticed this little
guy to the right here dining at our feeder just a couple of days after I put it up in the corner of the front porch. Nearly all the books will tell you NOT to hang a feeder on your porch if you want to attract hummingbirds in close. The accepted method, they say, is to start with a feeder some distance from where you really want it and then to gradually move the feeder in to your target viewing area. Hmmmm. Day One: Hang a feeder on the porch; Day Three: Male ruby throat hummingbird observed at feeder. Anyone see a pattern emerging here concerning myself and following the rules?

Turns out Guy Here--I just this moment decided that what I'm calling the male ruby throat above--isn't the only one. Not even by a stretch. Saturday afternoon, about the time we had that nice little shower, I called Annie out to the porch to check out Guy Here. She no more than got settled into the folding-chair stand-in for a rocker when she exclaimed, "Oh, look! There's two of them! No, wait....three!"

Of course, we broke out cameras and took up strategic positions to capture the moment. Guy Here wasn't having any of it. He and his cronies seemingly were masters at popping in when we least expected an appearance and buzzing right back out of frame just as quickly. All in all, Annie tallied no less than five individuals, and nary a one of them was captured in pictures that day.

Some five yards out from the porch is a soon to be dead tree of indeterminate species. I say soon to be dead because what remains of the tree is terminally infested with mistletoe. For now, however, this is Guy Here's tree. Rubys are known for being strongly territorial, and Guy Here's preferred sentry perch is a small, bare twig some 15 feet above our front walk. This post offers a clear hummingbird's eye view of both porch feeders. Woe be unto any other hummer who dares dart in on Sir Guy's domain!

Annie is convinced Guy Here and a significant other has a nest in that old tree. I'm not yet convinced. He will, from time to time, vanish into the foliage for a few moments in area where the mistletoe is quite dense and sheltering. And while hummers are known to have as many as three broods in a season, I'm not sure how much the male figures into the nesting and child care scene. I could, I suppose, climb into the tree and see what I can find, but that's not gonna happen. I can just hear myself saying, "Hey, honey, I found it!" just before branch, nest and my 60-year-old ass all come crashing to the ground.

Some things are better left a mystery.

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