Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Hummingbird Wars (a.k.a., Hummer Fights)

I love summer. I do. It's my favorite time of year, every year, and each fall is getting more and more repulsive to me because it signals the beginning of winter -- and the disappearance of my beloved hummingbirds.

I've been feeding hummingbirds for about 10 years now, and the practice just becomes more comforting and enjoyable every summer. The only hummingbirds we get in this part of the world are ruby-throats, darling little dark-green jewels with dark red throats if they're male. The females are really fairly dull without a red throat, but I love them, anyway. Every summer Wesley and I sit on the porch and watch the hummingbirds, and keeping the feeder clean and filled with fresh nectar is the single most delightful chore of the season.

There's something indescribably peaceful about taking one's morning coffee on the porch to watch the hummingbirds... even though they are the most cantankerous, grumpy, vicious, territorial little birds on the continent. I once read an article in either National Geographic or the Smithsonian about hummingbirds in which a naturalist said, "It's a good thing they're not as big as crows, or humans wouldn't be able to take a walk outside in hummingbird season." It's true!!!!! Hummingbirds look adorable and cute, but they are the meanest little buggers ever! They fight over the feeder so fiercely that I find myself laughing out loud at their whiny chatterings to each other. Oh, they fuss! They're so mean! They're the biggest, baddest smackdaddies around!!!! And I could squash them with my tiny, little hand if I were fast enough, so there, HA HA!!!!

My sister Amy -- the one who so rudely moved to Las Vegas -- has been regaling me with tales of her exotic black-chinned hummingbirds. I have never even seen a black-chinned hummingbird except in her pictures, so I have been very, very jealous. Furthermore, I was very late putting out my feeder this year, so for weeks, I had to endure the tales of Amy's own personal hummingbird wars in her back yard. She spent so much time watching them (because who wouldn't?), that she noted their individual behaviors and named them appropriately. Her hummingbirds are Perchy, Buzzy, Floozie, and Perchy Jr.

Amy's Perchy lays in wait for Buzzy (a particularly loud bird) to come to the feeder, and then he attacks. Perchy Jr. has been quite puzzled when Buzzy tries to assert his dominance over the juvenile -- he's obviously taking lessons from dad's perching behaviors. And Floozie, the only female around, gets to do whatever she wants, because, well, she's a Las Vegas Floozie. All the guys are in awe of Floozie.

Inspired, I decided I couldn't let Amy be the only person with personality-filled hummingbirds. Besides, my air conditioner was broken and I was spending more time on the porch in an effort to catch a cooling breeze. I discovered that I had my own versions of Perchy and Buzzy, but they had different motivations for their behaviors. My perching hummingbird wasn't laying in wait to attack the other bird -- she was perched there, trying to figure out when the coast would be clear so she could get a sip without getting buzzed by some sneaky female with entitlement issues.

It took me about twenty minutes to come up with the right names. My vicious hummingbird was so mean to the poor perching one that she had to be Buzzilla. That's a no-brainer. Buzzilla is extremely sneaky and very quick to attack any hummingbird that comes to the feeder. She stomps around and roars and all the other birds fly away very scared.

I wanted to name the perching hummingbird after one of Godzilla's legendary foes, but none of the classic names really appealed to me. They all sounded fierce and strong. "Mothra." "Gamera." That's just way too much for this timid little hummingbird. So I went for a kinder, gentler monster, and that's how Nessy came to be named. She's named after the Loch Ness monster, of course. Slow. Gentle. Needs to rest all the time. Nessy!!!

There's a male hummingbird who comes to the feeder sometimes, but I think he must have other feeders that he's frequenting. I mostly see Nessy and Buzzilla. I was going to name the male Bob (just in case another male showed up so I could name the second one Weave), but a good look at my cat Hector standing on his hind legs to see the male's ruby-throat through the dining room window changed my mind. The male hummingbird is now named Kitty Pot Pie, forever and ever, amen. And if you haven't seen pictures of my twenty-pound cat, then that name might not make sense. If you *have* seen Hector, then the reference is obvious.

Maybe next year I'll get a second feeder and see if I can't lure some more hummingbirds to my yard. I can't wait to see what Buzzilla would think of that!


At 10/6/05 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love my hummingbird feeder. It's one of the ones you suction cup to the window and it's on my windeow over the kitchen sink.. Way too fun to watch.

At 15/6/05 5:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your hummingbird commentary Bay! I walk along the river every morning and there's a powerline where all the crows line up and squawk. Today at the end of the line was a little, tiny hummingbird holding his own with the big guys.

At 16/6/05 6:41 PM, Blogger Gwyn Calvetti said...

Finally! Someone else understands these little tyrants! Check out this one of mine--


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