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Posted by: atowhee | January 31, 2018

HUMMERS, NOT HUMBLE

The following is a recent account from my friend, Marieannette McCabe (henceforth self-referred as MAM), in Ashland:
The Main Event

When Mam saw the snow falling outside her bedroom window the other morning she got excited, anticipating the QUIET that comes with newly fallen snow. But no, even though she was only fifteen minutes late getting up, that was too late for “you know who” and the moment she raised the shades in the living room Hummingbird Annie zoomed within an inch of the window with wings purring loud and clear, and her head bobbing right and left to see if the feeder was on its way. Fortunately Mam now knows to have heated the water bowl and feeder ready before she pulls up the shades. She had barely cracked open the patio door when Annie planted her feet on “her” feeder and went to work. Mam forgot all about the quiet and instead relished “Breakfast with Annie”. What joy that little one brings to the old woman…

The winter routine at the Bobcat Glen Restaurant starts first with feeding Annie and then putting out food for all the seed eaters. Mam serves only the finest fare – hulled sunflower seeds. In addition to the year round breakfast crowd of lesser goldfinches, house finches, chickadees and towhees, winter brings golden crowned sparrows, pine siskins, juncos (of course…..) and Mam’s favorite, the oak titmice. That’s a lot of mouths to feed and a lot of “butts” making a nightmare of droppings if you don’t keep up with it. Thus during the day you will see Mam out pouring hot water on the patio tiles to disinfect the restaurant floor.  In addition Mam is in and out reheating the water bowl for Annie’s feeder several times during the day.

All was quiet on the Western Front (relatively speaking………)
Later that afternoon Annie was on her perch as Mam went out and held the warmed feeder. Annie came up for a snack. Mam fortunately had her glasses on – – and it was a good thing she did……..as suddenly Annie started looking around and twittering away. She heard another hummer in the area and was more than displeased. Then Mam, who could not believe what she was seeing, did a double-take. “Am I really seeing what I think I am seeing – – – – – –  – Annie was bulging her chest out! Really? REALLY!
It was like she was suddenly growing breasts – right before Mam’s eyes! First the left side enlarged and then the right. Then they went down and came up again. Mam doesn’t know much about hummers, but she could have sworn that, to appear fearsome, Annie was increasing her size by flexing out her pectoral (if a bird has pects) muscles like a guy showing off his chest muscles. All of a sudden, ZOOM! Off she whizzed tearing after the hummer like it was Armageddon….. Every day Mam sees many forays with Annie defending her feeder, but Mam has never seen her close up when she is about to do it. Her chest was easily 20% larger! Talk about “puffing up your chest”. (Mam doesn’t think Annie uses this “technique” often, but somehow she must have decided this invader made it necessary.)
Annie knows all the moves.


Inline image 1 She looks so innocent………….Well maybe sorta………..

Round II:  Mam stayed at the patio door and waited for Annie to return. At first she landed on her birch perch, head turning back and forth scoping out the area to make sure she had banished the intruder. Finally, the coast seemed clear so she came back to the feeder. Mam was holding it fast. Suddenly from out of nowhere another female hummer cautiously approached the feeder. Mam first heard it and then saw it out of the corner of her eye. Now if Mam was aware of it, you know that Annie was aware of it too…….. Yet Annie sat still with head upright. Ever so slowly the intruder lowered herself to sit across from Annie. Mam is certain Annie was letting this happen to make the other hummer feel she was agreeing to the “hummingbird truce” hummers occasionally do so more than one bird can feed.But this was no truce……. Annie held herself back until the bird got close enough and relaxed enough then – WHAP! Annie lunged and landed a body blow to that poor bird and really scared the heck out of Mam as she was within a foot of the action. It came without any warning and it was a direct hit, a SMACK that really HIT the stunned bird.

Mam has always admired Annie because she is Gutsy. But this max aggression from one so small took Mam’s breath away.
Having seen this “other side” of Annie, Mam thought, “Wow, I sure wouldn’t want Annie mad at me!”


Inline image 3

Here is Annie on her favorite perch, revving up for another go-round at some poor hummer. Perhaps to go after her competitor, Nervous Nelly, seen here. Nelly rarely has the nerve to sit on the feeder so she mainly hovers. Mam knows her for sure by the three iridescent dots on the right side of her head, rarely seen in a female.

Inline image 1

And then there is our other new arrival, Pretty Boy. He still defers to Annie (smart) and often keeps whirling while he eats on the fly just in case she is in the area.
Inline image 2

He is pretty. Mam noticed he has a deformed toe on his left foot and pronounced white streaks from each eye downward. She will have to see if other males have the streaks.
Inline image 3

The beauty of the wild ones is a sight to behold.
But the challenges in their lives are formidable.
As Annie might say, “Living on this earth ain’t no walk in the park!”

(We would agree……….)
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