Back when I was still a wee nipper, one day while Mom and I sat side-by-side at the kitchen table, she suddenly produced a small book entitled Susie’s Babies. In the next breath she announced “Linda, it’s time you and Mommy had a talk about the birds and the bees and we’re going to use this book, okay?”
So, thanks to this cute little book about Susie the Hamster and her babies, I learned about the facts of life that day. Nowadays, the birds-and-the-bees dialogue is just referred to as “The Talk” and I’m sure, in some cases, internet-savvy kids likely know more than their parents think they do when it comes time for that sit-down.
So, flash forward more than a few decades …
As you know, I’ve tried my hand at hummingbird feeding this year. I was disappointed that the sugar water level never seemed to go down and wondered if that hummer only stopped by once I walked into the house and was out of sight, or had one sip and took off again? Was my little hummer, which I nicknamed Homer, simply shy or skittish – perhaps I should have been using peanuts first to lure it to the feeder? Just kidding of course.
The other day, finally I was lucky enough to get a good look at the elusive hummer that I have been providing sugar water to since early June. It was hovering around, not alighting to sip, but at least there was a presence. That presence was just long enough for me to glimpse the front of this little bird. Aha! I had a rude awakening!
Michigan’s predominant type of hummer is the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. Much to my surprise I discovered Homer was not a male hummingbird, but a female. Instead of that iridescent ruby red collar and throat, this bird was a light greenish color with a white throat and breast. Yikes! Well silly me as I named that bird Homer as it rhymed with hummer … a little juvenile perhaps, but I liked how it rolled off my tongue and you all know how I love alliteration. 🙂 Hmm – so maybe that’s the real reason this little bird never responded when I called out “here’s some fresh sugar water Homer dear – come and get it!”
So, that day I opened the door to still another hot and humid morning – ugh. That welcome glimpse of the hummer was precipitated by a whirring of wings fairly close to my head. Of course the camera was in the pouch and my keys were in my hand as I had just locked the door. But clearly I saw that little bird that blitzed by had no ruby-red throat, thus it was a female.
I couldn’t believe how tiny she was, but I had researched hummers after my first sighting of her at the pink weed in my garden and was amazed to learn that this type of hummer was just the weight of a U.S. penny and only about three inches (7.5 centimeters) long. That’s pretty tiny. Hummers are the tiniest birds on earth I learned. Until now, the smallest footprints around this house have been that of the sparrows.
I’m used to the sparrows that congregate around the house, looking for handouts, with jeering looks as they can’t eat sunflower seeds or peanuts. So, they retaliate by making mischief such as clinging to the side of the house and pulling out brick mortar, using it as grit to aid in their digestion, or making nests where they should not, causing $$$ to extricate those nests. Grrr – thus, I’m not a big of fan of sparrows, even though I am a bird lover.
Sparrows are fond of evicting smaller birds from their nests or birdhouses and overtaking their homes for themselves. Sparrows do not play nice as you see in this picture, which ornery behavior I witnessed while holding onto the camera hoping for a hummer sighting.
So, that morning I mused while on my walk that the hummingbird feeding was not a wasted effort. On the way home I decided on a name for my feathered pal based on this message I’ve seen on many screen doors or windows in the ‘hood since the COVID-19 medical crisis began five months ago.
And, when I returned from that trek, I made sure I had the camera in hand as I walked up the sidewalk, hoping to catch another glimpse of Hope, but no luck. Several more times since that morning I’ve seen Hope hovering around the house – once, she flew over to the screen door as I carried out a feeder, as if to say “is that for me?” Of course my hands were encumbered – so no photo.
So Hope lives here and do I aim to get a photo of her before the hummer migration from Michigan in the Fall? Well, I hope so!
My neighbor and friend Marge loved hummingbirds and she had large feeders placed on shepherd’s hooks around the perimeter of her house. She often e-mailed me photos of her hummers – in fact, these are a couple of those photos of a female hummer at one of her feeders which I used in a 2014 blog post.
Maybe Hope is one of Marge’s hummers. My good friend, who suggested I begin this blog, passed away three years ago today. Her hummers were such a great joy in her life, especially the last few years when COPD had her tethered to oxygen 100% of the time and her living room became her window to the world. Since hummingbirds live three to five years. I’d like to think Hope is saying “finally you get it – what took you so long to help me out Linda?”
Susie’s Babies image is from Pinterest.