Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hummingbird Watch

This Anna's Hummingbird was photographed in the Presidio by an anonymous National Park Service staff member. I haven't been able to capture my Anna's Hummingbirds in a photo--except for the one in this post--because they are wary and swift. But I get so much amusement from them!

I have determined that they are Anna's because they seem to be overwintering in our backyard, and that's the only local species that does. I have once or twice caught a glimpse of red at their throats, but mostly they look like the picture above. In the morning, when I drive my son to school at 7:20, one sits on the wire above my car and buzzes and clicks at me. When I return, he does the same. Later, when I go out in the backyard, all is quiet for a few minutes. Then he--I'm assuming it's the male--arrives within five minutes in the eucalyptus tree and starts the buzzing and clicking again. He does the same to my husband when he's working in the garden. Is all the noise directed at me, or is he warning his mate that we're around and to be careful? I never knew hummingbirds could make so much noise.

Earlier this week we were sitting on the deck with our tea since it has been so mild. Our hummingbird kept darting out from the eucalyptus tree to buzz at us, and then darting back in. Or maybe he was just checking to see what we were doing.

Yesterday I was walking up our street, looking at a fat gray bird in our eucalpytus tree in the backyard. I stopped to try to figure out what it was. Suddenly a tiny needle-nosed gremlin--our hummingbird--rose up menacingly right above the intruder. The bird gave a frightened squawk and flew away. Once it flew I could see from its black and white wing feathers that it was a mockingbird, also a frequent neighborhood visitor, maybe even the one that built a nest in our neighbor's tree one year. I guess he won't be building a nest in our eucalyptus tree, at least not when the hummingbird is around.

I'm wondering if the pair--there are definitely two--are planning to build a nest and are establishing their territory. According to my bird book, they could mate as early as mid-December here. I'd love to see them build a nest although I'm sure they'd never build it anywhere I could see it. They're too city-smart for that.

Here's my dilemma: We desperately need to trim the ivy in our backyard. It's forming berries, which will be ripe in a month or so, and then we could have a repeat of the War of the Robins and Starlings in our backyard. It was ugly last year; they fought over the berries, dive-bombing each other and slamming into our windows and leaving battlestains (droppings) all over our deck. So the berries have to go, but the gigantic flowering cape honeysuckle bush with bright orange flowers that the hummingbirds love is all entwined and entangled in the ivy. It needs a trim, too, frankly. Can I find a sensitive ivy trimmer who can shear off the ivy berries but leave a few blossoms for the hummingbirds so they stick around? To be continued...

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