Saturday, November 14, 2015

By Hand

No, my post title's not a reference to the neglected classic THE PUSHCART WAR, by Jean Merrill (1964). Instead, it's about the hummingbird on Monday.

There have been a few times when the hummingbirds came up and fed out of the feeder while I was holding it, but it hasn't happened for a long time. So when I went out and took down both feeders to clean and fill them, upon my return I found an impatient hummingbird hovering near the dowel their feeders hang from, waiting for me to get on with it. I decided to see just how impatient it was, and held out the feeders in its direction. After flittering about suspiciously for a few seconds, it dove right in and helped itself. It would take a swig, back up and eye me, move back in for another sip, over and over until it'd had its fill and moved off, whereupon I hung up both feeders and went back inside.

This was not the only notable bird behavior of the week. The crows have been keeping a sharp eye out for my comings and goings since things have turned cool and rainy. One morning a few days ago I was tossing them some (shelled) peanuts from the balcony, making a clicking noise as I often do to call them, when one of them started making the same noise back at me. So we had a bit of a conversation, which I think went something like this:

(me) here's something for you to eat
(the crow) please, may we have some more?
(me) certainly. here you go
(the crow) thank you very much

And then there's the chickadees. I've seen them several times coming to the hummingbird feeder, I think trying to work out what kind of feeder it is and whether it has anything that's any good from a non-hummingbird's point of view.* I mentioned the crows' monitoring my comings and goings; today, a chickadee joined in. I was walking down to the mail kiosk to mail off some disks and see if anything interesting had arrived,** rescuing a few worms on the way. As usual the crows followed hopefully to see if peanuts might make a sudden appearance. That's when I noticed that a chickadee was following along and watching my activities as well, keeping its distance from the bigger birds. I suspect it did some gleaning after the crows had had their go, and wonder if this is the first time it's done this or if I just never noticed it before.

Finally, though I'm not the one who saw it, Janice reported that a few days ago she looked out and saw an orange cat under one of the trees downstairs, watching the finch feeder carefully. A little later it'd moved to directly under the finch feeder, looking up.  Since we didn't find a little pile of feathers down there the next day, we assume no tragedy happened (aside from the cat, a relative newcomer whom we assume belongs to one of our neighbors, having been a frustrated predator)

--John R.
current dvd: MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS, a documentary on the early history of Pink Floyd, Mark Twain Tonight
current reading: THE BURIED GIANT by Kazoo Ishiguro (awful)
current listening: Pink Floyd's "One of These Days", which sounds an awful lot like their version of the DOCTOR WHO theme.

*especially now that the yellow jackets seem to have given up the ghost; haven't seen one in over a week. It wdn't surprise me if one or two comes by on warmer days even into the winter, but they're effectively done for the season.

**I have something really interesting that's supposed to be on the way; more on this when it arrives

1 comment:

Clive Shergold said...


Since you are now a practised bird-speaker, when will we be seeing your rendition of the relevant sections of The Hobbit into the original Corvine? And do you also speak Thrush?