Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Purple and Me

We had babies last week. Actually it was probably a week or so earlier but that’s when Brennan and Charlotte, splashing in our pool, spotted the youngster out feeding on a flowering plant nearby. 


Photo courtesy of Melanie McMahon

As the sixties song goes “Me and Mrs. Jones, we got a thing goin' on.”

It’s been a platonic affair, my affection for these flighty creatures more pronounced than theirs to me, but there are feelings between us nevertheless. I’ve written about this in a past blog entitled: ‘Pequeño and Me.’ I guess it just got more serious since then. Hummingbirds are now a part of our daily life here in the desert.

While we have a wide variety of birds at our feeders back in Apple Valley, it’s nothing like the mob of buzzing, zipping aerial combatants who swarm around our feeders and dive-bomb our heads here on a daily basis.

In years past, our hummingbirds usually showed up around February or March when our pink flowers began to bloom. We would put out a couple of feeders in the fall but they never seemed to attract the small birds any earlier.

Eventually, as we got used to the birds and them to us, Sharon and I began to pay more attention to those tiny elusive creatures. Then on day, we stumbled upon one of their nests in our front yard. For some strange reason a mother hummingbird decided that a cactus by our door was the perfect place to build a nest and start a family.

When we discovered the nest, it became a game hide and seek between us and mother. Either Sharon or her friend Linda would slowly, carefully slide up to the cactus and try to photograph mom and her babies. It became a game of cat and mouse or more appropriately, Sharon, her friend Linda and mother hummingbird. Both Sharon and Linda were dive-bombed several times when they got too close to the nest. But their efforts were worth it.

Then last summer we began to grow our extended family of hummingbirds. In our absence, Linda spent a lot of time hanging around our house, using our pool, working, reading and relaxing. She put up several hummingbird feeders and watched in amazement as a whole family of the tiny buzzing birds began to descend on our property. In short order, we had a family of more than a half dozen hummingbirds safely ensconced around our backyard.

The year before, Charlotte had named one of the birds Sugar and that name stuck. So, it became a game of finding and identifying Sugar as the birds buzzed above our heads or sat on the outdoor fan and looked down on all of us.

Linda decided to name one of the most beautiful birds of the group: Pequeño. This hummingbird has a beautiful vest of deep reflective purple that also quickly identified her as the most aggressive feeder closest to our back slider.

Now another hummingbird has taken roost in our main feeder. Like Pequeño, this bird has a beautiful crest of almost metallic purple. Unlike Sugar and Pequeño, Purple is far more territorial and protective of her feeder, nearby swing and the air space around her. Dogfights are a common occurrence as errant intruders try to grab a drink from her feeder. I always tell guests to hold steady and don’t flinch as the aerial combat sorties take place around our heads.

Ever so slowly, Purple began to accept the fact that I also live outdoors near her air space. On numerous occasions, she has buzzed me as I read, write and think great thoughts on my cloth-covered perch. Then gradually she began to accept the fact that I wasn’t going to leave and wasn’t the threat she first took me for. A kind of truce has been formed. I don’t go near her feeder and she doesn’t dive-bomb me anymore.

Recently, we added to the accoutrements for our fine feather friends with a new birdbath. It’s a 10 ton behemoth that isn’t moving anyplace. It’s drawn a wonderful assortment of new birds to our back yard.

Then just last week, we discovered a new nest in our front yard cactus. The cycle of life goes on around us, adding more tiny darts and regular birds together.

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