Hummingbird Update: New Kids on the Block

By , June 24, 2010

The homestead’s primary viewing entertainment has entered a new chapter. The new generation of local hummingbirds appears to have fledged, and, like most teenagers, they’re testing the limits of their newly found freedom, mobility, and social interactions.

It seems impossible that the hatchlings, sprung from such tiny eggs, could have reached almost adult size by now, but this appears to be so. Suddenly we have a swarm of slightly smaller birds, male and female, vying for dominance at the feeder.

I stepped out onto the front doorstep yesterday morning and paused under the eaves, watching the rain. A hummingbird passed behind me, through the foot wide gap between my backside and the screen door. Unless we’re actively pursuing them, I guess we’re nothing more than objects to be gotten around, as far as they’re concerned.

Later, five hummingbirds perched on the feeder, drinking. Their dominance displays had calmed for the moment; honor seemed satisfied if a newcomer could force someone to move off one feeding port to the next. At certain moments those at the feeder hardly bothered to glance up at the would be usurpers in full threat display above them. After a bit, everyone refreshed for the moment, they were off and at it again, dog fighting around the dooryard. All of this took place in a driving rain, incidentally.

My favorite moment came when one bird, alerted by motion or sound, turned and faced the open water of Lynn Canal in full battle readiness. An eagle and a raven flew past as the hummingbird, not even as big as the raven’s beak, hovered, confident and ready to drive these new intruders away from the feeder.

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