Thursday, April 21, 2005

Death by Hummingbird

The hummingbirds are back from their winter vacation in Mexico. My first hummer visitor of 2005 showed up a few minutes ago and has already taken a few large swigs from the feeder which I fill with a mix of one part sugar to four parts water.

I read that the females mostly stay in the nest and that it is the males which come to the feeder. The cute little things can be quite aggressive, guarding the feeder and driving off smaller males. I can attest to that with this grisly true story. -- D.H.

One day as I sat in my office chair, I watched a drama I'll never forget. Outside my window a small hummingbird was trying to get to the feeder but was being attacked by a larger male. The smaller bird finally succeeded in perching on the feeder and had just begun to sip when the larger bird swooped down and alighted on the young one's back, as if to mate. As I watched from four feet away, the larger bird suddenly drove his stiletto-like bill into the other's back just below the neck, and both birds toppled into the thick pachysandra ground cover below the feeder.

While what I had just seen was trying to sink into my reverie, the larger hummingbird flew out of the pachysandra and perched on the feeder. He then spat out a foamy wad of blood, shook his head once, and began to feed.

-- Dalton Hammond

My Hummingbird Poem

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