Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Hummingbird Wars

I realize that, since the semester has begun again, I need to keep up with my blog so my students will have something to laugh at...I mean, "read."  I could recycle blogs, but that's one type of recycling I'm not in favorite of--"The Best of Ms. Smith's Blogs."  I don't think so.

So, today, after I finished reading freshman diagnostics (finally) and grading a quiz for my 215 class and re-reading a couple of stories I need to teach tomorrow, I went outside to enjoy the freakishly fall-like day and watch the hummingbirds duke it out in the back yard.

I learned something about hummingbirds when I was in Colorado.  They make noise.  I don't mean just the wing noise; they make sounds that I'd describe as "twittering."  Maybe that's where the Twitter site took it's name.

What I've discovered during my numerous afternoons of watching them is that they are aggressive with other birds, too, not just their own kind.  They'll go after a Jay or Cardinal if those birds get in their way; hummers will also chase wasps and bees away from feeders, but I haven't noticed them going after butterflies.

Hummers attack each other physically.  Today, during a quiet stretch when the other birds had gone off, I listened and watched as three hummers chased each other around the yard.  They "chest bump" each other--well, maybe not exactly, but they fly straight at one another and try to knock each other off flight.  One hummer hovered around the feeder, and another much smaller hummer flew at him and knocked the large one sideways three times.  And, at times, I thought they must be fighting with their beaks--I thought I heard some "clacks" in there.

I took Middlemarch out with me to read, but I didn't make it through two pages before the hummers claimed my attention.  One of them--the smallest, most aggressive of the three--sat on the clothesline closest to my chair.  I managed to get a good look at him/her, and the hummer sat still for a good five minutes.  It's not true that they are constantly in motion; these guys sit still plenty.

Watching the birds is one of my favorite past times.  It's relaxing and informative.  Of all the birds, the hummers are my favorite.  I wish they'd hang around all year, but I know they have to migrate.  I still keep the feeders out and filled all the time, though.  I can't ever tell when one of them might need a drink before its long journey southward.


Christie said...

I remember when I was little a hummingbird got stuck in our garage. Even though the door was up, the hummingbird couldn't figure how to get out. My dad tried to help it and shoo it in the right direction and the bird freaked out and started diving at my dad! The poor bird finally made its way out about three hours later. Your blog post reminded me of that time!

Kourtney said...

My mother has a lovely container garden, and while it's a lot of work to maintain, our whole neighborhood enjoys the flowers. An added bonus are the hummingbirds. It's strange....I always feel like a little girl when I see hummingbirds. I'll miss that feeling as the season changes.

-Kourtney Washington