Saturday, October 08, 2011

Hummingbirds Revealed

It's hummingbird season, the time of year when a large segment of the population of hummin'birds migrate to Mexico or other points South. I put a feeder up when I saw one in the backyard searching for fuel. Several days of a sugarwater way station has made my yard a destination for the tiny terrors.

My middle daughter can attest to the astonishment of having a feathered projectile zip seven inches past your head.

Since I have been lax in the GeezerChron department, but I did write one way back in '08, and that's what I'll post now! Reruns, awesome; now I'm like cable tv!

Everyone is charmed and delighted by the delicate form, acrobatic flight and soft trilling song of the hummingbird. They are so tiny and cute, their wings beat so fast, they like pretty flowers…ad infinitum.

I must admit, I too was always partial to hummingbirds as a child and yes, as an adult. When we went camping, my Dad always put up a hummingbird feeder so we could watch them drink the pretty red sugar-water. As they would wheel and spin, dive and dart, the hum generated by their wings was surprising as they would buzz past your head to wait their turn in line for the nectar provided. At times it looked like the Moscow Ballet with all the tiny forms whizzing around the stage, hovering, pirouetting, following each other in strings of three or four off stage right or stage left, with a few prima donnas seeming to get all the open space and sweet stuff. I guess I never paid that much attention to the real action.

My folks have a hummingbird feeder at their house just outside the back window that overlooks the garden. When I go for a visit in the afternoons on Saturday or Sunday, we sit and talk, look at the garden, and watch the hummers.

From my observation, these are the most self-centered, belligerent, pushy, greedy and ill-tempered birds that ever took wing. Ounce for ounce (I’d venture to say that it usually takes two to make a full ounce) they are the most aggressive bird out there. If they were fish, I would give a great white shark a two-to-one weight advantage over the hummingbird/fish and still put my money on the hummer.

If they were as big as even a mockingbird, they would no doubt be deadly, and the government would likely put a bounty on them. Mean little things.

I have watched a single bird expend the energy equivalent to a gallon of gasoline guarding a free source of food. He will sit on a branch six feet from the feeder, and dare any other creature, be it fowl or insect, to sip even a molecule of the nectar. He buzzes down on them like he was shot from a gun, diving and chasing like his tail is on fire. He even bullied a bumblebee away from the sacred feeder one day. When another hummingbird even flies by, he launches from his perch like a Sidewinder missile. Once the interloper has been dispensed with, the foul little fowl has to come check the level in the glass vial containing the precious red sugar water, flying all the way around, eyeballing the quantity. He then takes a long drink, occasionally pulling back to scan the area for bogeys. Another sip, then back to his perch to continue his bitter little vigil.

When my oldest daughter was two or three, she would correct anyone using the proper terminology, “hummingbird”, by saying sternly, “HONEYbird”…
She was wrong on a couple of different levels. DEVILbird would be more accurate.


innominatus said...

Must be a Tejano thing. The hummers up here don't seem so snotty.

aA said...

Mr Innominatus: sit and watch 'em fer a while, you may see a side of the little darlings that you did not see before!

Of course, it may be that Texas hummers are meaner, but I think a lot of these that come through are tourists on their way to migration headquarters, wherever that may be. Or it is the Texas birds protecting their free sugarwaters from the interlopin' yankee birds. You see this in Galveston all the time! Haahaha

Anonymous said...

Aw! Honeybird! That's darling!

The honeybirds that frequent my house are just as nasty as yours. It makes me wonder if they have evolved this way or if they have always been assholes.

aA said...

PaChomp: yes, that little girl was pretty intractable about the nomenclature!

As far as the birds, they ARE nasty little jerks! I think it's all this political correctness that's tickin' 'em off so bad!

Thanks for reading and commenting! If you keep it up, there will be a bound copy of the Best Of the GeezerChron someday with your name on it!