Feisty, Feathered Garden Friends

Jun 7, 2013 | 0 comments

HummingbirdYesterday ‘the girls’ and I worked in the garden beds along the east side of the house.  They, being chickens, scratched around looking for worms and other delicious morsels.  I, being on a tide of tidiness, pulled and yanked and dug at weeds and even sawed off an offending lilac limb or two.  Mostly, we annoyed the hummingbirds.

The focus of all our activity happened to be the area closest to the hummingbird feeder.  It is suspended from the porch overhang and is the center of hummingbird activity from first light until dark – literally.  Even though the girls and I were hunkered well below them, the hummingbirds let us know, in no uncertain terms, that we were too close for their liking.  We were dive-bombed, buzzed around, and cheeped at but we persevered and they finally decided we were no threat to their food source or to them.

I don’t know how many of the little birds enjoy our feeder.  Enough that we need to refill it every evening or risk an early morning bevy of angry (and persistent) little birds hovering outside our bedroom window.  We placed that feeder in that specific location so that we could watch the birds as we enjoy our first cup of coffee.  (Yep!  Coffee in bed.  So civilized!)  They have not disappointed us.  Usually there is a bird at each of the four feeding stations with an impatient line-up awaiting their turns, and they are insistent that we keep their feeder stocked.

I don’t even know what or how many varieties of hummingbirds we have.  I suspect that there are several, as they come two distinct sizes – tiny and tinier.  Or perhaps we are seeing mom, pop, and the babies.  I try to pay attention, but they move too fast for my limited tracking skills.  My Field Guide to Western Birds by Roger Tory Peterson tells me they may be Anna’s or Allens or the Rufous variety.

“Bird Note,” a syndicated radio show that I sometimes hear on KMUN, informed listeners recently of an Audubon Society program called “Hummingbirds at Home.”  By participating, volunteers can actually assist in the protection of these lovely little birds. I had the thought that I could learn more about my garden visitors and improve my observation skills by taking part, so I went to the hummingbirdsathome.org website to learn more.

Well, wouldn’t you know that, once again, we are the victims of rural discrimination.  Participation in the hummingbird program requires an app for your smartphone.  We gave up our smartphones some time ago because we can’t get service here unless we stand outside (usually in the rain) across the street in the churchyard.  And, no.  I’m not even considering moving our hummingbird feeder.  Morning coffee sitting on the churchyard bench in my bathrobe and raincoat holds no appeal at all!

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