Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Our New Twin Hummers

by Lee Ann Setzer

That's hummingbirds, not SUVs--although they guzzle as much fuel, proportionally. I'd include pictures, but the window is dirty and the photographer is not too talented.

My maternal hormones don’t usually give me much trouble (ask my kids). But they (the hormones. Also the kids, but that’s another post) are going crazy right now. Mama Hummingbird built her nest right outside my bedroom window. We watched her build it, out of dried-up apple blossoms and her own feathers. Maybe some hummingbird spit. Then she sat still for a week, probably a heroic feat for a hummer. She reminded me of myself and a lot of other moms I know: I’m doing my motherly duty, staying home and moving at the kids’ pace. I want to move, but it’s time to sit still. Arg!

Once they hatched, she looked really uncomfortable on the nest, with those two little sharp beaks pointing straight up, yelling, “FEED ME!” Now she’s finding lots to do outside the home—like eat for three hummingbirds.

At first, the two kids just stuck up their beaks, waiting for Mom to deliver. The last couple of days, though, I’ve seen their whole heads, and even their flapping wings. They want to hum, and I’m scared spitless. What if they fall? What if the cat is waiting when they fall? What if they starve before they figure out where the flowers are? What if they can’t find a nice hummer to marry?

A small, objective corner of my brain reminds me that zillions of hummingbirds have left the nest since hummers began, and plenty of them survived to drink red sugar water and buzz around the butterfly bush. These, however, are my babies—not statistics. So I check on them a dozen times a day.

And a thin branch on the crabapple tree is going to be awfully quiet and empty once they do fly off.


Janet Kay Jensen said...

How exciting1 We have lots of hummers but have never seen their nests. We hang feeders and make syrup to coax them into our yard - - if you want to keep yours around, you might want to hang a feeder and fill it with syrup. Around dusk ours congregate for a real cocktail hour. And we have several feeders so the aggressive ones can't control each feeder, and the meeker ones can get their fill. They're absolutely fascinating to watch.

Shirley Bahlmann said...

Aw. You made me smile. What a great visual you painted for me tonight. Good night.