A Hummingbird Tale: If you build it, they’ll come; if you take it down, they’ll kick butt


My husband, Stephen Nichols, is a bird-lover. Let me just say that he feeds the outdoor birds the entire year, and has feeders for every bird need. In particular, Stephen lives for hummingbird season. He’s studied this matter deeply, and we have planted flowers to attract them, and have at least three feeders up between April and October. We built it, and they did come. Since we have a nice back deck, we often eat out there, and get to watch the hummingbirds diving, swooping, hovering, skipping about the yard and neighborhood. We never have more than one or two, but they are quite regular visitors.

Stephen make the hummingbird food by boiling two cups of water with 1/2 cup of sugar and stores the syrup in the refrigerator. If it rains hard, or the feeders get light, or a couple of days pass, he insists on keeping the feeders clean and fresh. I have to help him with all this, as some of you may know. But three joint replacements and two strokes later, his enthusiasm for hummingbirds has not diminished.

These hummers occasionally take a little vacation, and the last two or three days, we debated whether or not they had moved on up to Canada or at least, points North. Still, his ardor for their company undiminished, he requested me this afternoon to bring in all the feeders so that he could refresh them. And I did. Well, two of the three. As it happens, we got supper ready before the feeders were taken care of, and rare event of rare events, we went out on the back deck and sat down to supper without returning the feeders to their proper positions. It was a nice dinner, meatloaf, butternut squash and salad, all homemade, and we were enjoying it and the flowers and the rest of the birds: goldfinches, cardinals, wrens and sparrows, doves, a starling or two, and an occasional scampering squirrel. And of course, we were once again solving the world’s pressing problems.

Suddenly, a male hummer dove down and darted towards our table at breakneck speed. Amazingly, he didn’t look for the feeders; he’d been there, done that already. Instead, (we were sitting on two sides of the table with our backs toward the brick wall), he zoomed up to the opposite corner of the table, just outside it, and right at eye level. He hovered. Wings batting thousands of times per minute, he moved closer and further away by fractions of an inch, and curled his tail under.  And I would say he was angry. Pissed. “Where is my frigging feeder?” Or maybe, “Do something, quick! Really, I’m literally starving!” Whatever the specific message, the will of this bird was emphatically clear. He did this twice, and then was gone, like a bat out of hell. We looked at each other in shock, and recalled that our friends, George and Pat Henderson, had told us a similar story about their hummers a few years back. And we got up, went inside, filled the feeders and brought them outside.

I wish for the sake of the story, I could tell you that Mr. Hummingbird came back for a drink. But, alas, though we waited a half hour, he hopefully had found a different cache of nectar. But I CAN tell you that, now, Stephen and I speak just a FEW more words in the hummingbird tongue.

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Author: Jim Andris

Retired gay married early adopter. Cooking, cleaning, fixing. Makes good music occasionally; U name it. Churchy dude. Likes to think about things, too much, sometimes. Dump Trump. Trying not to do too much harm. Revisiting blogging. Looking for a new handle on things. Exploring genderqueer.