Hummingbirds, Part 2 of 3


Nancy Bryans, Writer, Teen Scene Editor, Production Assistant

Nancy Bryans

The little male Costa’s hummingbird, who I named Junior, became my year-round companion and made my former southern Arizona yard his territory. He and his sister fledged together, then went their separate ways like their parents. Each morning, Junior met me at the door, happiest when I supplied him with fresh homemade nectar in his sanitized feeder. Soon he trusted me, sipping from his feeder as I held it in my hand. I talked to him as he licked his fill before he flew away to catch tiny bugs, repeating his routine throughout the day. He perched on a tree limb sized to fit his tiny grasping feet, and he turned his head back and forth looking for insects. If none were spotted, he returned for more nectar.

One day when I walked outdoors with Junior’s nectar, I held out my hand close to the feeder. He perched in my palm, looked at me, and drank from the feeder. If my eyes had been closed, I would have been unaware of his presence on my palm. Hummingbirds are as light as a feather, and Junior weighed slightly less than three grams. He was a friendly, handsome bird, and I admired his iridescent violet gorget or “necktie” when his plumage sparkled in the sunlight, identifying him as a Costa’s hummer.

On the days I worked outdoors tending to my flowers, herbs and plants, Junior hovered above me like a sidewalk superintendent, even “talking” to me. Some of his utterings I began to recognize: hello, feed me, danger. I especially appreciated the danger alarm for a scorpion. When he saw me walking with pruning shears near “his space,” he almost shouted “stop!” Pruning shears struck horror in his tiny heart. The first year of his life, a hired tree trimmer accidently cut off Junior’s favorite tree branch after being told repeatedly not to cut that tiny tree limb. Junior never forgot, despite his brain size that of a BB shot.

Hovering near me, Junior became quite animated upon seeing his reflection in my sunglasses, flying forward, backward, upside down, or perhaps he was excited thinking he saw an invader hummer in his yard. Junior was protective of his space in his lemon tree and shrubs, each on opposite sides of the back yard, used to keep himself warm, cool or dry. If another hummer invaded his territory, he flew in a frenzy to chase the offender away.

Some days, a whirl of fluttering humming wings were heard as Junior chased an invader back and forth over the roof of my house. I kept a second feeder near my front entrance, and Junior defended his space, front and back.