For the past couple days up in the hills, I’ve heard it. That sound. A top note rising above the cacophony of springtime birdsong, asserting itself through plaintive mourning dove coos, crisp chickadee cheeps, and pissy jaybird squawks. The half trill, half buzz that signals the arrival each spring of the micro-mini jet fighter of the bird world, the broad-tailed hummingbird.
I've tried to ignore it. But this morning in the yard, one flew right up to me, hovered mid air in front of my face, fixed its little hummingbird eyes on mine, and chirped what I can only assume is the hummingbird-speak equivalent of, “Where’s my damn breakfast, woman?”
Good Lord, is it mid April already? Time to clean Sam’s Club out of sugar.
And if the broad tails are here, that means the black chinned hummers are sure to follow. For about three months, both will live peaceably in my back yard. They’ll drink my sugar water silly, of course, and occasionally, the females will get a little sassy with each other, but by and large they'll share the feeder and the flowers in perfect harmony.
It all goes to hell in August with the arrival of the Rufous. Glinting like flashes of liquid copper, these hyper aggressive little buggers storm onto the scene looking to push everybody around. Suddenly, my back yard is no longer Snow White's happy little haven for all critters great and small. Suddenly, it's a noisy, perilous war zone in which the world's smallest birds jockey with the ferocity of velociraptors for control over feeder, bush, and lawn. Even the humans aren't safe. I can't count the number of times one of the little fuckers has buzzed my head en route to a dog-fight.
Then, suddenly, they’re gone. Off to their winter homes in Mexico leaving in their wake an exhausted but relieved set of mammals. A month or so later, the broad-tailed and black-chinned head that way as well. Hasta, hummer dudes. Finally, a reprieve from the relentless work of refilling feeders and dodging needle-billed whirligigs.
But I'm putting the cart before the horse here. Hummer season has just begun, and I have to get myself in the kitchen and cook.