I stood by the open patio door tonight, the fresh air rushing past my face during a brief reprieve from this rain. Wine glass in hand, I watched the antics of my four male Rufous hummingbirds who returned today with a testosterone-fueled vengeance.
One by one, they took turns tussling over the best spot at the feeder which was only filled this morning after one male circled the empty birdseed feeder, giving me the side eye. I know they return to the same spot every year. I believe I know this little guy from last year. His brazen demeanor demanded I hastily fill the feeder, so I do so with glee. These birds are nature’s entertainment.
These four males dance around; with their dashing bronze backs and ruby throats flashing in the remnants of the day’s rays that are breaking through the bluish black clouds waiting to deliver more spring showers. Their eternal cynically suspicious expressions verify their intent. To guard the feeder from any others with furrowed brow and manly intent.
They fly up, so that they are a mere distant dot in the sky and dive-bomb whoever dares come near their nectar. Precarious and daring, they whizz by in alarming speeds, gifting me irrational fears of death by hummingbird impalement to the eyeball. The call is a “chu-chu-chu-chu”, fading as they rise up and away. Dusk brings the daredevils a ballsy attitude, not unlike a few beers shared among young men.
They buzz and whir, and fly off to lie in wait for an unsuspecting member of the gang to dare to drink. I can’t quite figure out the hierachy here. One of them is the biggest but at this point early in the season, I suspect it might not be indicative of the ultimate winner. Sometimes the smallest can be the feistiest.
The females are absent right now. I like to imagine them in tiny nests dabbled about in the trees by my house. These lesser-coloured but equally scrappy mama hummingbirds settled on eggs the size of a two-year-old’s thumbnail. I’ll see these mothers in a couple weeks, as they take turns guarding the feeder and their tiny babies.
I can sit for hours and watch. Birds have this hold on me. Their story is eeked out to me in the weeks to come, the warmer days, the long dusky summer nights. They will buzz and circle and demand more sugar water. They dance, tails pushed down, zee-ing back and forth in show. I’m nothing more than a post, an object or a threat, unless of course, the feeder is empty. They live their live in zest and fervour, passionate and whole-hearted.
To feed and love, and raise babies; they defend their right to dance and fight, these feathered miniature warriors.