What is it inside a tiny Rufous hummingbird that guides it every year back to its original feeder? It's one of the greatest mysteries in life, right up there with the salmons' compulsive urge to come back to their home creeks for spawning.
We go through tough times in the winter, but I've learned to trust their ability to survive and thrive. In a lot of ways our winter relationship is actually draws us closer than the other times of the year.
The winter days are dark and cold. Each day I see the tiny creatures take one last powerful swig just before the light fades, then they disappear, just like that! They find a tiny branch, almost at ground level, and behind the fence to shelter from the icy winds. Their tiny bodies then go into a state of torpor, or hibernation, during which all body functions almost cease to work.
I take their very cold feeders in for the night, in case they freeze.
In the morning, even before daylight, I go outside, feeders in hand, hoping not to disturb the little birds, but they hear me, and instantly I have them hovering right in front of my face, squeaking and clicking. The first time it happened I thought they were angry, but then I realised they were actually greeting their food supplier with joy. It's a heartwarming experience.
A joyous time!
And then the Rufous hummingbirds reappear. O, happy days! It happens so suddenly, and today was the day!
You get to know hummers individually after a while. It was instant recognition when the little rufous turned his chest while drinking, and a brilliant flash from his luminous chest (gorget) plumage was directed at me. It was like a personal greeting.
Now I'll be watching for the next while as the year round residents find their peaceful home invaded by the new, brown (that's what rufous refers to) combative little interlopers, who feel that every bit of food and territory should be theirs, and keep ferocious watch on the feeders!
There goes the neighborhood!
Loving and Living
Hummers love showing off to each other with these aerial acrobatics. They can fly forwards, backwards and even upside down! And of course they can hover too. It must be easy for them, because they generally only weigh 2 grams, about half a gram less than a penny!
The little females don't trust the guys aesthetics in home building quite obviously, because they choose to make their nests by themselves, using a mixture of lichen and down from things like clematis seed pods. They hang it all together with intricately woven spider net threads.
So there's a lot of squabbling about territory mostly, from the different males versus males in the couples relationships. It's a complicated yet fascinating thing to watch.
Their behavior mimics that of events in our own world. It's just on a much smaller scale. Their determination, feistiness and refusal to be broken by whatever happens in the way of natural disasters around them is reflective of human perseverance too, especially as our hearts go out now to unfolding events in Nepal.
Whatever happens - life goes on
Spring is here. The flowers are in bloom. The hummer feeders are full. Not all is right with the world, by a long chalk. But here, in my little world, it is peaceful. I'm so grateful for that.
Thank you for your visit. Wishing you a safe and beautiful week!