Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Further Thoughts on "The Nac Mac Feegles of the Bird World"

Yes, because it is nearly Feederwatch Season again. No time like the present to start talking about flight-capable theropod overlords friends.
8.15.09 - Hummingbird Feeder Standoff
You can't discuss animals who are way more badass than you'd expect without a mention of Hummingbirds. (The title of this post is inspired by a recent discussion on this very topic at Fark.com. If you get the reference, you are awesome.)
Now, to normal people like your mom and my mom, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is a beautiful jewel in flight. A sparkling Fairylike apparition of the garden. A bird that thinks it's a bug. How cunnin'.
To you and I, however, this shiny little Beebalm-enjoying pixie is better summed up thusly: a dart that can aim itself.
Really, this should be obvious. We're talking about a hand-held dinosaur who lives on a diet of straight-up sugar-water. They are a tad bit high-strung. Hummingbirds ain't nothin' to eff with. I remember being seven years old-ish and opening the latest issue of Ranger Rick only to be confronted by "Teenie Meanies", a kid-friendly article about the territorial ferocity of our friend, Archilochus colubris. In first-person, our Trochillid narrator basically asked, in so many questions, "Let's shrink a human to three grams and see how well they do!" (Ah, Ranger Rick. I shall have to tribute you someday if I can dig up an old issue or two.)
The above watercolor sketch depicts a scene that lasted about a half second. I had a rather unusual number of hummingbirds visiting my feeders this summer; three regulars and maybe five altogether. There were many fights. The toughest one was a big (for a hummingbird) female. Later on, she met her match when a smaller but bolder male arrived.
I was, all told, anxious while refilling the feeders.
Depending on where you live, there may still be hummingbirds flying through the area, so keep those feeders full. I did a experiment this summer, and it turns out that homebrew sugar water (bring three and a half cups of water to a boil, dissolve one cup of pure cane sugar in it, cool, refrigerate) is a hell of a lot more popular than the garish red commercial mixes.
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Unrelated, but I laughed harder than I should have at this:


Meanwhile, California is getting the really awesome convention. Is there anything like this on the East Coast and, oh, NOT on the weekend before a major travel holiday?
A-a-a-a-n-d since everyone else is talking about it, have you visited "Covered" yet?

1 comment:

Albertonykus said...

No ruby throats here, but we have rufous hummingbirds, pretty orange things that also defend their territories very fiercely.