The hummingbird clock

Written By: Miranda - Sep• 17•10

The hummingbirds have gone, they left during the first week of September. The week before they left they seemed more agitated than usual. They fought among themselves more, the air was filled with tiny dogfights all week long. Then one day the air was silent. One female hummingbird stayed behind. I took the last feeder in and a couple of days later she had moved on South with the rest of her kind.

Every year the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive from their winter home in Mexico within a day or two of May 8th. They are very regular. I anticipate their arrival by setting out hummingbird feeders, at least two to start. When the Baltimore Orioles show up I put out one or two more, they like the fake nectar just as well as the hummers do. But on or around May 8th the hummingbirds arrive, tired from their long trip and heading for the feeders they know I’ll have waiting for them.
The return of the Red-winged Blackbirds means spring has arrived, the return of the hummingbirds means another summer can begin.

Ruby-throats come back to the same place year after year. If you put out feeders, as I do, the same hummingbirds will return expecting those feeders to be out. There are a few individuals I recognize now, there are tiny differences among them in the way of oddities of plumage, spots and so forth.

The hummingbirds are my clock. Their yearly migration is my way of seeing the passage of time, year after year. It’s always such a joy when I see the first one in May. When they leave I am sad but I know they have to go and if one hangs around as this one female did a couple of weeks ago, I’ll encourage them to leave by taking in the feeders. I know they’ll be back next May.
If I live until I’m ninety five I’ll see the hummingbirds return only forty more times in my life which doesn’t seem like very many. Forty isn’t a large number. Sometimes I think about things like that. Forty more springs. I’ll try to savor each one as much as possible.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *