Recently we visited 2 wonderful families. First, was our friends Mitch and Jan Toews at their little piece of paradise at Jessica Lake. They are always delightful hosts.
While there we were graced a second time by a family of hummingbirds. They were pretty high in a tree, but I was determined to try to get a photograph of them with my big lens. Just before we left my patience paid off as the mother hummingbird finally fed her young from the “right side.” Until then I had to be content to photograph her and her young from the back.
I knew the bird was the mother, because the fathers play no role in rearing young beyond their exuberant spurt of excitement at conception.
The nests of hummingbirds are often glued together by spider webs and then the mother, who again does all the nesting, uses pieces of lichen and small bits of bark as very clever camouflage. They are smart birds.
These young birds we saw that day will fledge at about 19-30 days after breaking through their eggs. Though nectar is their primary food, they also dine on tiny insects.
I could not help but think of their upcoming migration. They would be bound for South America soon. A hummingbird weighs between .1 and .3 of an ounce and yet are able to fly non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico. How is that possible? Their migrations are so astonishing that many continue to think that they hitch rides on the bodies of geese. Yet they do it; somehow they do it.
For many reasons, humans are enamoured of hummingbirds. Who could blame us? As Charles Bowden who used to write for Arizona Highways explained,
“We are all seduced by hummingbirds, by the flash of color, the sudden iridescence, the rapid movement, the hovering, and the fact that something so small will fly right up to our face. In a world where so much of the wild flees at our approach, hummingbirds seem to promise redemption, whatever the real reason for their behavior.”
According to Susan Wethington, “Hummingbirds are one of the few animals people connect with immediately, and every culture with hummingbirds has a positive connection. I think hummingbirds provide an opportunity to engage people in nature and to open our eyes to the always astonishing natural world.
Bowden was right when he said, “If you want to see the only future worth being part of, you join the world of hummingbirds.” It really does make sense to “protect the joy.”
I don’t want to be a part of a world without hummingbirds.