Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Hummingbird Encounter

I have a 30' by 4' raised planter in the backyard. Due to heat, bunnies, and quail, only 3 magnificent Orange Jubilee and two or three Ruellia (Mexican Petunia) were flourishing there. One fall day I purchased more Ruellia to balance out the Orange Jubilee. (Purple against orange, very stylish)

It was around 3 PM. After planting 5 of the Ruellia, I took a break under the shade of an chinaberry tree, still standing in the planter, to the right of the largest jubilee. I was leaning on the shovel just enjoying the cool, when I noticed a movement on the far side of the jubilee. Then another. A hummingbird was checking out the blossoms on that side.

I stood very still and watched it for a moment, then it came to check out a flower on my side of the jubilee. I must have blinked or twitched, because it noticed me and darted away. But not far. I heard the buzzing of wings first in my left ear, then behind me. I barely breathed for fear of scaring it away.

Suddenly, it flitted in front of me. There it was, not more than a foot in front of my face, beak to nose staring at me as I stared at it. The shade washed out any colors in its feathers, but the back was soft gray and the chest an iridescent silver. The wings were just a blur. We stayed like that for at least 2 minutes, the hummingbird flitting first to the left, then to the right, but never more than an inch in either direction.

Whether it was by telepathy or by a change in its demeanor, I became aware that its sharp little beak was mere inches away from my eyes. I began to wonder if it was feeling threatened. Was there a nest? I moved my shoulder.

The hummingbird darted away to my right, but stopped 3 feet away under the sheltering leaves of the umbrella tree. It hovered there, still watching me. I slowly looked around for a nest, but didn't see one.

It maintained its watchful manner. (Can one really feel threatened by a creature only 3 inches big?)

I slowly and deliberately began digging my last hole, showing the hummingbird that I wasn't there to harm it. A brief moment later it was gone.

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