Tag Archive 'hummingbirds'

Jul 09 2020

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Judy’s Hummingbirds

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With the pandemic raging, Judy and I have been spending a lot of time in our backyard lately. Oh sure, I’ve been getting into the woods some. Earlier this week I hiked into the Breadloaf Wilderness to find a camping spot that I intend to use in a week or so, and I’ve done a little trout fishing to boot. But with hummingbirds visiting on a regular basis, our backyard seems like the place to be.

For years Judy and I have tried to attract hummingbirds, but only this year have we succeeded. Judy brought home a couple large hanging plants with red, tubular flowers. We hung them from wrought iron shepherd’s hooks not far from our patio, along with a couple feeders. We displayed all this early in the season, and Judy has been diligent about keeping the sugar water in the feeders fresh since then. Lo and behold, the hummingbirds came! First they came once or twice a day, then all day long.

Living a few miles outside of town, with our home backed up against some woods, we’ve had plenty of other visitors as well. Barred owls hoot in the evening and have flown across our yard a couple times. A flock of turkeys passes through daily, taking whatever grubs they can extract from our grass. Woodpeckers and various songbirds visited our feeders in early spring. Deer, skunks, raccoons, garter snakes, dragonflies, toads, field mice – we have plenty of visitors. But the hummingbirds are something else.

What is it about these little creatures that make them so attractive? Is it the sheer beauty of their iridescent feathers, the way they hover in mid-air, or the sheer speed in which they come and go? Whatever it is, hummingbirds captivate us – not just Judy and me but a good number of people. Go to any hardware store and you’ll find a wide variety of hummingbird feeders there.

I have every intention of getting in the woods again very soon, midsummer heat or no. But I won’t expect to see as many creatures up close and personal as I do in my backyard. The hummingbirds now feed while Judy and I are sitting on the patio only a few feet away. And that feels pretty special.

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May 25 2009

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Judy and the Hummingbirds

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Judy loves hummingbirds but it has been years since she last saw one.  Two summers ago, she purchased a hummingbird feeder and hung it from the lilac bush a few feet from our kitchen window.  That allowed me a close-up glimpse of one once but Judy wasn’t so lucky.  So for the third year in a row she hung the feeder, hoping for the best.  I knew better than to encourage or discourage her.

Judy loves hummingbirds.  She loves them so much that she has one tattooed right above her ankle.  She says that every time she has seen one she has been on some kind of vacation – with me in the Adirondacks, with a friend on the Maine coast, or elsewhere.  More than once she has seen them at rest and has meditated on the fact that even a creature as frenetic as a hummingbird must stop every once in a while.  Seeing them when her own life was frenetic, she too has stopped.  There is a time for wingbeat intensity and a time to rest.

Many years ago, when I was alone in the Alaskan bush, I awoke almost daily to the low-pitched buzzing sound of a hummingbird hovering just outside my tent.  Even then Judy had an affinity for hummingbirds, so I couldn’t help but think that her animal spirit was watching over me.  Nowadays I can’t see a hummingbird or the mere image of one without thinking of her.  Judy’s existence and the essence of that tiny bird are somehow bound together.  Don’t ask me to explain how I know this or why it is so.  Some things go beyond words.

A couple days ago Judy put up her hummingbird feeder, hoping for the best.  She put up a fuchsia plant next to it, thinking that that might help attract the little busybodies.  She was right.  Yesterday, just before dusk, I looked out the kitchen window and saw a female.  Judy saw it a few minutes later, delighting in the encounter.  This morning, we both saw a male hummingbird at the feeder, repeatedly.  It looks like Judy has finally succeeded in attracting them to our home.  That makes this a red-letter day.

There are times when the wild is in our faces, and other times when it seems elusive.  Always it keeps us off-balance, somewhat amazed, unsure what to expect next.  That is the wonder and beauty of it.  Few creatures illustrate this as well as a hummingbird does, flitting around with such erratic intensity.  Maybe that is why Judy, wife of a woods wanderer, loves them so much.

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