Allen or Ruby Throated Hummingbird
Our garden is a hummingbird magnet. They provide cheap entertainment at the feeders and plants year round. They are especially fond of the Salvia leucantha (Mexican bush sage), a drought-tolerant shrub we have planted curbside and the Flowering Maple (Abutilon hybridum), planted out back. My husband tends the feeders, ensuring they are always clean and full.
My first up-close experience with this delightful bird was during a game of hide and seek with my sister. I was hiding behind a shrub when one flew within inches of my face. I wanted to shout out to the world, “look!”, but I kept my cool and savored the closeness before it took off.
A few years ago a female hummer started building a nest in the crook of our wind chimes. She flew back and forth from tree to chime before we realized what she was doing. Within a short time she came to the same conclusion we did: what an impractical place to build a nest. It was a special treat watching out the window as she worked, but a relief when she moved on.
Mesmerized by the Nest
The feeder outside our kitchen window gets the most traffic. Beautiful hummers like to rest in the Magnolia tree, swooping in and doing battle for a turn at the drinking fountain. Last week one of the males started his mating ritual. He circled the house, then flew straight up into the air, before turning directions and shooting down toward the house. It sounded like a sharp whistle with every decent, one he repeated many times over.
Waiting for a Turn at the Feeder
That same night we got a text from our son saying one of the hummers had crashed into the back window after dark. My son and our sitter raced out back and found it cradled in a spiderweb with the neighbor’s cat in hot pursuit. Quick thinking on their part and the lucky placement of the web saved the birds life. They held the stunned bird for a short time till it recovered and flew away.
According to The World of Hummingbirds, the Allen Hummingbird winters in California while the Ruby Throated Hummer prefers Mexico and Southern America. The birds we’re spotting don’t seem to fit that pattern, but given our mild, dry winter, perhaps they didn’t fly quite so far.
If you are interested in attracting hummingbirds to your garden, this article is packed with useful information.
This site offers a large collection of hummingbird feeders. Here is a fun do-it-yourself blog showing an easy and inexpensive way to make your own.
Paul Hood Photography produces beautiful hummingbird prints. You can find his work on Etsy or Zazzle.
A Route of Evanescence
by Emily Dickinson
A route of evanescence
With a revolving wheel;
A resonance of emerald,
A rush of cochineal;
And every blossom on the bush
Adjusts its tumbled head,–
The mail from Tunis, probably,
An easy morning’s ride.