Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The End of Summer

The End of summer made me weary. The heat and humidity confined me to my house until I was cranky and irritable. However, on Monday a cooler and drier wind started to blow, and I ventured forth once more.

I have noticed an increase in butterflies recently. Pure lemon yellow butterflies flit about the neighborhood, along with beautiful black butterflies touched with spots of blue and orange. Some sort of giant black bee is also getting drunk on the nectar of blossoms, but the best visitors of all are the hummingbirds.

I had not seen many hummers here in the canyon since we moved here in April, but about two weeks ago they started to show up. It prompted me to get out my hummingbird feeder which I attached to a window hook over my kitchen sink. In less than 10 minutes I had my first hummer, a little female green jewel of a bird with a dark bill and a tiny white patch behind her eye. From her fluttering about with her tail bobbing I assume she is a female black-chinned. There are so many possible humming birds around here that I am hard pressed to distinguish them all as I try to learn them. So far I have only seen females, but I am hoping the males will arrive soon. It would make my task a bit easier.

Since hanging the hummingbird feeder the house finches have been trying to figure a way to get at the nectar themselves. I did not know they did this, but they try to land unsuccessfully on the tiny perches. When that doesn't work they land on the hook itself, or cling to the nearby screen. But, even if they can reach the fake blossoms, their beaks are too short and stubby to extract any nectar from the feeder. However, they do chase the hummingbirds away, but not for long.

A few moments ago a tiny green female was perched atop the slender hook that holds the feeder. She sat there looking at me through the glass. I was so close I could have touched her if it wasn't for the windowpane. I marveled at her tiny beak so like a black syringe. She flicked her filament of a tongue out, then drew it back again. Her dark eye was like the head of a pin set into her petite emerald face. Her dove-gray throat blended into her dove-gray breast and disappeared beneath her wings. She fluttered her wings a couple of times, but didn't rise, then scratched her face with one of her tiny feet. As she looked through the window she cocked her head as if trying to understand this world she can see but never enter. Perhaps my window is her equivalent of television!

I am interested to see how the bird populations change here in Sycamore Canyon as the winter comes on. Yesterday I had a rock wren out here on the block walls, its shrill call ringing across the wash as it bobbed up and down in typical rock wren fashion. It is the first time I have seen a rock wren here and I wonder how many more species will be returning for the winter, and which ones will leave, if any.


Jess said...

How neat!! I LOVE humming birds! The other day I saw one perched on a branch outside an upstairs window - had I been outside I never would have been able to see it, because it was so high up. I felt so lucky that I happened to look out the window at just the right moment :)!

Kathie Brown said...

Dear Jess,

What a glorious surprise for you. These tiny birds are amazing. I often wonder how something that appears to be so frail can survive in this harsh world!