Friday, August 26, 2011

Sense of Place

I saw a hummingbird in our front yard yesterday morning.

That really shouldn’t be such a big deal. Mars and I have several native perennial plants on our property specifically intended to attract these small nectar-feeding tropical American birds – as well as one entire garden dedicated to these feathered hoverers as well as butterflies. For several summers we even put out a couple of those red sugary liquid holding glass feeders.

Except our seductive efforts rarely seem to work. On a daily basis the pollen producing perennials pull in more than their fair share of bees. And a reasonable amount of butterflies explore the plants on a weekly basis. The hummingbird feeders drew in an overabundance of ants. But this is only the third “hummer” that I have spotted in our yard over the several decades that we have been attempting to seduce them to drop by.

The first sighting was at least thirty years ago. I was at our dining room table when I spotted some rapid movement outside nearby our flowering quince. I looked out the nearby window and briefly saw a tiny olive green object hovering midway between the red flowered bush and the house. It took be several seconds to register what it might be. Before I could call Mars’ attention to it, it was gone.

The second one was probably fifteen or so years ago as I was standing next to our Butterfly Garden, selecting the next spot in which to do some weeding. I sensed a buzzing sound near my head and looked up to see a small green monster with a threatening curved beak staring at me.

My initial thought was that it was a mutant wasp, and just as I was midway through my instinctive jump backwards I realized it was in fact a hummingbird. At about the same time the bird apparently realized that I was not a direct source of nectar, darted forward a few feet, hovered, and fled the yard. I remember the confused look on its face – probably quite similar to the one on mine. Again the whole event happened to quickly for me to notify Mars who was working nearby. Therefore once again I had no corroborating witness.

Both of the above instances occurred on warm, bright afternoons when the sun-warmed nectar was flowing and the air was still. Both instances happened near hummingbird attractants.

Yesterday was a cloudy, windy morning. I was sitting in my family room working on a crossword when I looked out the window towards our flowering crab tree. Once again I saw that same tiny olive green hovering object. It jumped and hovered several times as if looking for something and then, apparently not finding it, exited stage right.

When Mars arrived home shortly thereafter I told her the story while walking her over to the spot that the hummer had visited. It was pretty windy and the tree branches and tall perennials were swaying. Two oversize bees were struggling to hang on the Phlox in front of our family room. Other than them the yard was totally lacking any wildlife.

We are expecting a significant hurricane to pass over our state in the next few days. Two days ago there was an earthquake on the east coast. It was reported that the animals at the Washington DC Zoo had become more active prior to the tremor – exhibiting atypical behavior such as writhing around rather than sleeping and bellowing rather than sitting around lethargically. Evidently other animals are more attuned to their surroundings than we humans are.

Obviously the hummingbird’s sense of place was thrown totally out of whack by the impending storm. Trust me. These little hummers have been ignoring us forever. There is no other reason for it to be here.

No comments: