Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My New Feathered Friends

I've told countless stories here about our escapades with random animals at our house. Skunks rifling through recycle bins looking for a late night treat. The Ewing family collection of Gold Finches snacking at the thistle I had placed out for them. The mouse that had me, pregnant and alone, trapped in my bedroom while he scrambled desperately to escape his untimely death by sticky trap (I have told you that story, right?). Raccoons living and procreating under our back porch then later generations seeking revenge for the trapping of their ancestors by emitting menacing growls at my head while I was trying to sleep in a tent in the backyard. A stray shitzu that showed up at our front door one summer afternoon, an animal we instantly named, bathed, and fell in love with, who still haunts my thoughts at least weekly because I think we were meant to be his forever home. Deer that stalked me from the field just outside of our living room window. A bird that died and then was resurrected after an unfortunate misguided flight pattern right into a sparkling clean window. Coyotes howling every night, sometimes a little closer to our house than I am comfortable with. And I can't forget the squirrel that sunbathed on the tree house built for him by our home's previous owner, unapologetically lying spread eagle style on his belly keeping one suspicious eye on me and the girls as we went about our business fifteen feet below him. I'm sure there are more I'm forgetting, but that's a pretty decent summary of the animal adventures we've experienced over the past nine years.

You'd think I'd learn a lesson, that perhaps attracting any kind of animal into our yard is not necessary as they will surely find a way on their own.

At the start of this summer, I dug out a new flower bed behind our attached garage. I planted three rose bushes and several gerber daisies, put in a hanging planter, and decorated it with a cute butterfly garden stake. Standing back to look at my handiwork, I knew that there was something missing. I remembered back to my Grama Poke's house and the hummingbird feeder she always had positioned on the window just above her washer and dryer looking out into the backyard from the utility room. Our neighbors also have a tall hummingbird feeder, and I thought that maybe if I bought one for this mini-garden I'd be able to attract one of these small but mighty birds to our yard as well.

Within a week I spotted my first hummingbird. Actually, I heard the hummingbird before I saw it. I was watering the flowers in the garden when out of nowhere I was fairly certain a fighter jet had just tried to land near my head. Have you ever had a hummingbird fly close to your head when you didn't see it coming at you first? Think B-52 bomber. Sounds just like it. In those early summer days, before it turned surface-of-the-sun hot, I spent several afternoons sitting on our porch swing reading and watching sparse hummingbird sightings. I soon became mesmerized.

Fast forward to the last week in July. Upon returning home from our weekend trip to Michigan (where I also was treated to near constant hummingbird sightings at Kim & Pam's house), The General informed me that a hummingbird had come looking for me. As he tells it, he was sitting in the living room when he noticed a tiny bird come to the window, look around several times, and then fly away. After going outside he noticed the feeder was empty.

Last weekend The General and I were standing outside chatting in his garage. From the reflection in his truck window, I saw two hummingbirds flying side by side about three feet from where we were standing. First, I found this odd as hummingbirds are notoriously territorial. That they would be flying so close in sync without trying to chase each other off was a sight to see. Chatting and hovering just above eye level, I saw them look to The General and look at me. No, scratch that. They made eye contact with me. They flew away, immediately returned, hovered, and gave me another look before flying off for good. The feeder was empty again.

Then, last night after picking up McKenna from practice, The General once again informed me that a visitor had come looking for me. "Was it another hummingbird?" I asked. "Yes, and I looked. The feeder is empty". Once again, the bird had come to hover just outside of the garage where The General was standing, took one quick glance at him, and flew off. That bird knows the hand that feeds him and clearly has no time to waste on anyone else.

So, basically, I'm being stalked by at least two hummingbirds. I sat on the porch one day early this week and watched three of them fight over a place at the then-full feeder and the ferocity with which they defended their rightful position makes me think I should probably just keep feeding them. I don't need any angry hummingbird getting aggressive with me.

The One Carbon Hill Audubon Society. Now accepting new members.

4 comments:

Meghann said...

I'm an avid birder, actually, so this makes me really happy! In your neck of the woods they are most likely ruby throated hummingbirds. (if they have red throats they are male, not red throats, either female or young males that haven't matured yet.)

Hummingbirds are surprisingly spunky, given how small they are. I've had the same experience, where they stalk me if the feeder is empty!

The Page Turner said...

Hummingbirds are the best! Do not make the mistake of giving them the red juice. The dye is not healthy for the little birds!

Tru Stories said...

Last night I noticed a hummingbird flying around our jungle-like garden... I very casually mentioned "Hey look... a hummingbird"... Coach replied, "Hey Jay, I don't care... knock it off before you try and turn us into your parents talking about birds."

The Page Turner said...

And....Coach just lost his free dinners at my house on Tuesday. Just when I thought we were bonding.

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