Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Flying Gems - The Hummers of Summer

I miss my little hummingbirds. I finally took their feeder down today, though they’ve been gone for a couple of weeks. 

Their departure signals the end of summer, and that has been difficult for me to accept this year. Once again, summer has passed by much too quickly. 

Do you enjoy watching these little feathered friends throughout the summer? We have a feeder hanging by our kitchen window, and the whole family enjoys our little summer neighbors.

Blooms of my Hosta 'Guacamole'
With their antics and boundless energy, these tiny friends entertain us throughout the summer. I love to watch them inspect my petunia baskets, thoroughly checking out each flower for nectar. 

When my larger hostas bloom with their bell-shaped flowers, the hummers almost disappear inside the blooms. Even the tiny coral bells offer something pleasing for their palate.

Do your hummingbirds come and say hello, or even goodbye? I get to know the little family who shares our feeder each year, and if I am outside near their feeder, they act somewhat surprised to see me, although they seem to know who I am.

Raspberry Blast Petunia
I am the flower lady who plants bountiful gardens of blossoms for them to enjoy; and I am the one who refills their feeder with fresh sugar water for their sustenance. Yes, they know me, and they are not afraid of me.

At the end of the season, one of these little flying gems will come right up to the window, looking directly inside, usually at my office window on the other side of the house. My little friend will hover, looking into the window, and seems to be saying goodbye.
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

They do this every year, and I am always awed by their presence. They never seem to be afraid of me. While it is bittersweet farewell, I treasure that they know me and I fancy that they are saying thank you for the lovely summer gardens and sweets. And too soon, they are gone.

Autumn leaves are falling, and our seasons are changing once again. I miss my tiny friends, but I know next May I will place my feeder out with fresh sugar water, and once again these delicate beauties will grace us with their presence. It wouldn’t be summer without them!

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Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Let me share a story of my personal encounters with hummingbirds. I’ve actually gotten to hold these tiny creatures in my hands, not once, but twice! 

The first time was when we lived in Oregon, and one got trapped up by the skylight in the outdoor breezeway. It was twilight and this poor little guy was franticly trying to find a way back to the sky!

Fearful that he might harm himself attempting to escape, I got a ladder and climbed up to carefully catch him in my hands.

I stood on the patio, incredulously holding this tiny creature in my hand; two species not normally in direct physical contact. He felt practically weightless, and I could feel his tiny heart beating so fast. With a soft whir of his wings, he was gone. But the gift of holding that tiny life in my hand was indescribable, and I will never forget it.

Fast forward fifteen years or so, to our home here in Wisconsin. My husband saw that the cat had something out in the yard. When he approached, a chipmunk freed himself and ran off. But he noticed something bright green in the grass, and it was a hummingbird!

We don’t know how this tiny bird got to be there in this mix of animals, lying in the grass. He rescued the tiny bird and brought him to me. I held him for awhile, and he began to perk up.

Baby Hummingbird on a branch. So tiny!
As we had just made fresh sugar water for the feeder, my boys suggested we get some for the little bird. We filled a small medicine cup, and encouraged him to drink. Before long the little guy was perched on the side of the cup drinking the nectar. After a few minutes, he felt stronger, and soon, with a whir of wings he flew away.

Once again I felt awed at the rare opportunity to commune with this delicate species that live with us for the months of summer. I will never forget how it felt to hold these tiny creatures, and I feel privileged for having had the experience not once, but twice!