Monday, May 25, 2009

Great Birding Morning

Broad-tailed Hummingbird
We took a walk along the river one morning recently, following one of our favorite river trails with riparian habitat on one side, full of chokecherry, willow and cottonwood, and forest on the other side, with douglas fir and larch rising up to rocky cliffs. It is usually a very birdy area, and this morning was no exception. You couldn't throw a stick without hitting a yellow warbler (we didn't try, though) and there was one particularly vocal and acrobatic black-headed grosbeak. But the thrill of the whole walk was the hummingbirds. We were seeing them zooming around, going about their hummer business, too fast and far away to identify.

At one point however, we got lucky. We had stopped to check out another bird and spotted this broad-tailed hummingbird up on a twig. He sat and watched us watch him for quite a while. Occasionally he would take off, buzz around and then come right back to the same twig. I was able to get a few photos of him, these two being the best of the bunch. It is hard to imagine that these two photos are of the same bird. It is a good illustration of the control that they have over their brilliant iridescent feathers.

Then as we were heading back, something vibrantly reddish-orange flashed at us from across an open grassy area like a beacon. Another hummer! This one was a rufous hummingbird and he was catching the sunlight directly on his gorget and we just happened to be at the perfect angle to see it. It was almost blinding for something so small. If he hadn't been flashing - probably trying to impress a female hummingbird hidden somewhere in the brush - we would have never spotted him. With a display like that, he's got to be lucky with the ladies.

A few years ago a hummingbird chose to nest right in front of my cousins' cabin and they got to watch the progression of the next generation from their window. I was able to get some photos of the nestlings a week before they fledged. This pen & ink illustration was the result.

We haven't seen any more hummers at our feeder at home since the one Paul spotted last week, but that's not to say they aren't visiting. We live in a basement apartment and I didn't want to hang the feeder at the level of our windows or it might tempt the neighborhood cats. Instead, I have it hanging high up on top of a trellis. Unfortunately it is out of sight from our windows but more importantly it is out of reach of all but the most athletic kitties.


Youa said...

i've updated my blog so that you can comment on it now . it's just a template that i took from wordpress so i'll have to work out the kinks in my old theme or create a new one that works for the future eventually. ahaha.. also i added a plugin that will allow for my posts to flikr to update on my blog too so i don't have to upload photos in three places, just flickr.

i've been so out of it - but i plan to get back into IF again. it made my blog so colorful for a couple of weeks... and plans to get on track with life again, i haven't lost any weight since the begining of May but only maintain... excited for the great weather upcoming months!!!

haven't seen any photos from your trip on your blog? do post when you get the chance. would love to see. but i do love the ones of the humming bird. we probably don't have enough trees around our area to attrack a lot of wildlife or birds but I might put up some nectar feeds so that I can "possibly" get some humming birds around too... "possibly"

Laure Ferlita said...

Beautiful illustration of the nest - very sensitive piece of work.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

This sketch brings back memories of my hummers last summer--thank you!

Kelly said...

...I love the softness of your illustration. There is something mesmerizing about a hummer's nest--artwork itself!