Sunday, April 16, 2006


Whew! Busy weekend. There were lots of things going on this weekend, including several hummingbird-related adventures, so let's start at the beginning.

First of all, the boys are back in town. We saw three or four male black-chinned hummingbirds in the yard on Saturday evening. In my reading about black-chinned hummingbird nesting habits, I had learned that the male generally disappears while the female is on the nest and when the chicks are growing. Who knows where they go? They're so territorial, though, it's probably best that they not be around to attract attention to the nest. I haven't seen any males in the last few weeks, but now they're back with a vengeance. The mother still runs them off as well as she can. In fact, it was a convoy of males that we saw her chase across the yard and over the neighbor's wall.

In the midst of the male bashing there was a very frightening moment. The mama bird was dashing around and flew off the feeder and smack into the patio door. My heart stopped. She tumbled to the ground. Her wings were splayed out and she sat still on her stomach in front of the door. I watched her gather her wings in to her side. I noticed what looked like a light colored spot right in the middle of her long, slender beak. I wondered if that light spot indicated where her beak might have bent when she hit the glass. Leon the bulldog took a few tentative steps in her direction, and Paul and I both dived for him. In just a few moments -- probably no more than 20 seconds, our little mother gathered up her wits and flew away. I didn't see her anymore Saturday evening, and I was worried sick that she was dying or that her beak was broken and she wouldn't be able to eat or feed her babies.

Let me quickly say that she was back at work this morning, as if nothing had happened. Thank goodness they're such resilient little creatures. The babies were so close to fledging, I couldn't help but wonder whether they would have been able to learn to fly on their own. Would they have found the feeder? I'm so glad I didn't have to find out the answer to that question.

And, of course, speaking of fledging, we now have one more hummingbird flying around our yard. I believe it's the female who's started flying first. She must have been the first to hatch. I saw her on the webcam this morning, but by 11:00 or so I could only make out one beak on the webcam. I went outside and peeked, and sure enough, one little bird was alone in the nest. I sat on the patio and waited, and after a while here came the mother, flying confidently, and the baby, flying like Woodstock. I wish she hadn't decided to start her flying lessons on such a windy day! We occasionally have these days in Las Vegas -- probably since we don't have weather, as such, like snow or rain or whatever -- when the wind blows at gale force. I saw a weather advisory on TV tonight warning of high winds through Monday at 11:00 a.m. Our new flyer made it through the day without being blown away, at least. I saw her in one of the canary palms in the yard as evening fell. Let's hope the smart one who stayed in the nest stays smart and doesn't try out his wings until the winds have diminished a bit.

The lone baby left in the nest has been doing calisthenics. He's turned around in that nest, stood on the edge, flapped his wings, and chirped his little lungs out. Mama bird comes by and chirps at him as if to say, "OK, buster, now when are you going to get off your lazy butt and fly like your sister, hmm? You want me to feed you your whole life? Not likely!" And then she feeds him a bit. (Pushover.)

I'm betting that by tomorrow night we'll have an empty nest. Sigh.


Post a Comment

<< Home