Posted by: morrowsl | September 4, 2018

No, buy maybe if you hum a bit…

One of the great delights of moving away from the hustle and bustle of the city is being able to come into contact with nature on nature’s own turf. Granted, there’s been quite a lot done to alter the turf at Remote. Still the wildlife seem to have figured out new paths and methods of getting where and what is needed to go on living as if no humans interfere. We try to be good stewards. Poison is used only as a last resort and then as mindfully and safely as possible. Grass is left tall to harbor small creatures. Brush piles get added to as often as material comes available. We still feed the deer, though we’ve learned they will forage the fields as much as possible if the feeders are empty. Feeder plots are still on the plan. We’ll get them in at some point when we are in a better place for maintaining them.

Harmonious observation of nature was seldom the story when we lived in the city. We had visitors, yes. Raccoons and possums shared bowls with our outdoor cats, leaving me to wonder what diseases they’d also share. Squirrels constantly raided the bird feeders, much to my dismay. Coyotes made rare appearances, crossing the streets and galloping off into the vacant fields, before townhouses took those spots away. Hawks nested in the woods at the college, but stopped hunting behind our house once the expansion of the interstate began.
Most were uninvited guests. With the exception of woodpeckers. And hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds were constant visitors at my mother’s little apartment in the city. I was always amazed by this since her closest neighbors were two hospitals, one full of people on the verge of mental instability and the other boasting a Care Flight helipad with Mom’s bedrooms directly under its landing path. One was noisy in a frantic, helpless sort of way. The other the steady thrum of help rendered and life saved.

But the hummers never seemed to notice all the noise and activity. They would fly up to check first that the feeder was hanging and filled. Then, every morning and evening, and occasionally during the day, three or four birds would stop for a drink and a sit still at the window where Mom waited patiently to watch them. Her delight never waned. And, try as I might, I was never successful in fooling them into stopping long enough to be caught by my lens. I would no sooner set the camera than they would take off, little Jetson engines buzzing, to mock me from the safety of the trees across the road.

So, the discovery of a nectar feeder when we emptied the pool supply cabinet on the porch gave me hope that, just maybe, I’d found a spot where hummers summered. I cleaned the feeder that first spring and hung it out, sometime in March.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Then, one day in mid-April, when I’d just about given up hope (and had stopped filling the feeder), I saw something pass a window so fast it could only be one of two things. Since it was way too close to the house, and much to quiet, to be a jet, I knew the first Remote hummingbird was on a scouting mission to see if the feeder was out and filled!

I think we had a total of three permanent residents for the summer. Then, as fall approached, the number swelled. At one point I counted a dozen birds fighting to be “owner” of the feeder. I added feeders and was having trouble keeping nectar made. Finally, the day came when the full feeders weren’t being emptied and I knew the birds had left for warmer breezes. I cleaned the three feeders that worked best, including the one the previous homeowners had left, and set them on the top pantry shelf.

When spring came this year, I added a feeder to replace the one that failed last season, and started making nectar in double batches to store in the fridge for quick-fill replacement. We probably had the same three permanent residents this season, but there seem to be more now and then, so maybe the total is greater than three. I keep feeders on all corners of the house and the birds spend the days flitting around and around, stopping in the lilac tree or out in the big evergreen to rest.
Since summer has started packing her kit and plotting her departure, there seem to be greater numbers of birds. I watched this weekend as several battled over the perch on the hook holding one feeder. It seems they like to proclaim ownership from that spot, but nobody keeps it for long.

I’ve learned that they are wary of the sound of a shutter.  And that, given enough time, they will eventually locate the source of the sound and realize that the big thing holding it moves. As long as I stay a healthy distance away and don’t make any sudden moves, they ignore me after that and I can take all the images I want. The only drawback is the sun beating down on my back and the lack of quality lighting. I try not to hang the feeders in direct sunlight so I can avoid growing fungus in them.

Last Saturday morning presented a prime opportunity for hummingbird watching. The air was cooler than it’s been. The birds were energetic and chatty. I took my coffee and camera out to the pool deck and pulled up a chair.
There are a lot of things about living away from the city that I appreciate. Spending time outside with hummingbirds is at the top of the list. Mom wasn’t able to spend a lot of time here after we moved. If she had, there would have been several spots for her to sit and delight at the birds. I think of her every time I get buzzed closely. She would have loved having them at eye level with no windows between her and them.

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