Four or five hummingbirds zoom around the window. Two males chase each other off. It’s not the females they vie for, I think. They want first shot at the refilled feeder.
One lands. Drinks.
Some land on the feeder, some hover.
Empty. Full. Empty. Full. Some days the weather is cool, and the nectar lasts. Hot days are the worst for all of us, flora and fauna. The nectar heats, encouraging the mold to grow quickly. Ignore the mold at the birds’ peril. Bad nectar will kill them.
The hummers arrive in St. Louis in late April, feeding for strength to continue their trip north. They will fly as far as northern Ontario. Were I am scant 3 grams and winged, I might join them.
Or not. I don’t have the energy anymore. No one puts out feeders for me.
The birds I think of as “ours” arrive in late May. The are the ones who will mate and breed and feed hatchlings from our nectar.
I know some of them, all females. The males pass through in April and come back again in late August, or as late as October, depending on their understanding of the coming winter.
This year, the males showed up in mid-August. Their early arrival could predict hurricanes in the Gulf they are avoiding, or an early winter, or an inability to tell time, always chronically early or late. I know people like that. Birds too, I bet.
Our backyard is a declared sanctuary for animals. Moles and voles tunnel through our yard while neighbors set traps. Bunnies are born in warrens that the mower avoids, week after week. The garden is a smorgasbord. Take what you need but EAT ALL OF IT. No “one bite and move one to the next,” if you don’t mind. I can share.
Feeders reward us with many visitors. Crows, starlings, pigeons are tolerated so that maybe an Indigo Bunting will linger a few days. Three species of woodpeckers visit, munching on insects that would harm our trees. From March to May, gold finches will arrive in brown plumage and leave in bright gold. More than three dozen species have been seen at the feeders, including a hawk of some stripe that waits for the smaller birds and baby squirrels.
Great circle of life, baby. Great circle of life. My partner cringes. I chase squirrels, he goes after the hawk.
The hummers are the real reward.
Iridescent green or ruby patches at the throat. So much power and stamina and beauty and grace.
There is one who has visited my window feeder for the last two years. We know each other. Every morning and evening she would feed, then hover at the window, engaging in conversation. I speak aloud. She hovers for a moment. A moment is a long time to commune with wild being of another species. Every day in season. For two years.
It’s August and she hasn’t returned this year. I miss that morning greeting. Hummers don’t live long. Perhaps she died. Or moved on. Why would she come back here? Our nectar isn’t special.
Wait! There she is! Once. She hovers. We talk. She is gone.
I think she was saying goodbye.