Ketzel's Garden

Tony Soprano's Ducks

Any of you Sopranos fans will certainly remember Tony's attachment to the wild ducks that took up residence in his pool. And the depression plus anxiety attack he suffered when they left ("those goddamn ducks").

Well, I get it now. I've become so invested in the hummingbird saga outside my window that I began suffering a certain self-indulgent melancholy this weekend when I realized they'd soon be gone ... and I'd be left behind.

Though I don't have anything nearly this good to bring to my own therapist today:

Tony describes a dream where a bird steals his penis — Dr. Melfi extrapolates from this to reveal that Tony projected his love for his family onto the family of ducks living in his back pool and this brings him to tears, to his consternation. She tells him that their flight from the pool sparked his panic attack through the overwhelming fear of somehow losing his own family.

Yeah, yeah ... meanwhile here in the real world, the three amigos in the nest outside my window are increasingly invisible to my camera's eye because new spring foliage on the tree they're in is filling in fast. That tree, incidentally, is Azara dentata from Chile, and in a few weeks it'll be giddy with slightly fragrant yellow pom-poms. Food for the kids? Not sure it'll suit their tastes. Anyone know?

baby hummingbird head

First fuzz, then beak, then wings and now eyes open, awaiting mama and the next feed. How long before this little creature leaves the nest? Sooner than this mama's going to be ready, of that I'm sure. photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR

I shot a short video this weekend while the little hummers rode out a rainstorm. Soon as I download the appropriate 60s hit (can you guess), I'll post the clip ...

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It's been great fun for us to watch the progress of the hummingbirds, Ketzel. Here on the east cost it's been cold and rainy as we wait and wait for spring; we have begun to see birds searching for nesting sites though nothing as dramatic as the hummers. look forward to the video.

Sent by Chris Maciel | 6:05 PM | 3-31-2008

I can see you share this overwhelming urge to take care of everything. I too inhabit some kind of "Bambi" world.

I live near downtown Boulder CO. Last year a bull snake took up residence in my yard. I have bird feeders, mice, cats, dogs and now this snake. It hibernated under my concrete pad driveway and was out just recently, sunning itself by my trash cans. I am worried silly, meeting the trash guys, hoping no one sees it as a threat (it is a mice and small bird eater). Mine is 3' long, very skinny, but it can grow to 6'. I want to name him, but then I'll be really attached. And, how can you help a snake?They live a long time. It wouldn't be unusual on a farm on the plains. But, this is an old residential neighborhood. I think animals must talk. There I go again, being all Bambi headed.

Sent by JMc | 6:17 PM | 3-31-2008

Bambi, I know less about snakes than I know about hummingbirds but shelter's shelter and at least we've got some of our own to provide!

Chris, it's ixnay on the video, I've been told the picture quality is not up to snuff...sigh...

Sent by Ketzel Levine | 7:15 PM | 3-31-2008

i'm in NE Portland and have been suffering from Hummingbird envy until today. I had the same "doh" moment when, after watching the Hummers zip around for the past few weeks I noticed they were dive bombing a squirrel and thought I should be more observant. Sure enough she is sitting on a nest in a Ponderosa Pine just out the kitchen window. I've yet to see any little beaks but will keep watch. Maybe we should start a club!

Sent by Angela | 8:14 PM | 3-31-2008

Well, I'm thinking one of two Creedence Clearwater Revival songs - Have You Ever Seen The Rain (apropos for newborns) and/or Who'll Stop The Rain, but since they were released in 1970 and 1971 I'm thinking you are leaning towards one of the many versions of Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.

Wow I clearly need to get back to work.

Sent by Kevin Wallace | 12:03 PM | 4-1-2008

Ooo, ooo, me! I know! Would that song be "Riders on the Storm" by the Doors? LOL
I can't wait for the video.

Sent by Kristi | 1:58 PM | 4-1-2008

The hummingbird blog is delightful. Most hummingbirds will take nectar from any plant that has bright flowers and high-energy nectar. Honeysuckle is one, although they have to sample many flowers to get enough nectar from it. If you have any brightly-colored, trumpet shaped flowers, they'll tackle those first. If you have a very good picture of mom (including her plumage), you can send this to a birding expert in the local ag-extension office (often the same person as the advisor for native plants). Sugar-water feeders make it fun for you to watch, but are a major insect-magnet, and can train the birds away from the variety of plants they would normally feed on (and help you pollinate).

Sent by Sharon | 3:22 PM | 4-1-2008

Thank you for this wonderfully entertaining blog. I have yet to see a hummingbird on a nest, but do get them in my garden here on Long Island during their spring and autumn migrations. They love light blue catmint flowers (nepentha) in the spring and butterfly bushes of every hue in the fall. I have found several lost in my barn over the years and helped them find their way out again. One got itself so tangled in cobwebs that it couldn't move. My son spotted it lying on the floor of the barn as I was bringing in a horse, just in time for me to avoid us stepping on it. When I tried to pick up the tiny bird it let out such ear splitting shrieks that I thought it had at least eleven broken bones and that I was badly hurting it. My son and I gingerly transported the little beast to a wildlife rescue organization which, after picking yards of sticky spider webs from its feathers while it loudly yelled its head off, examined the ungrateful bird and pronounced it whole and hearty. A bit later, my son gently took it out of the box we'd used to carry it in to release in our garden. We have a tame parrot, so he is knowlegable about handling birds. To our delight, the little creature decided to sit still on his hand and blink a bit for about two minutes before helcoptering off to feast in our garden for the rest of the day. It was a thrill to get to actually hold one of those tiny, delicate birds, but the most amazing part was to discover that they had such astonishingly loud voices. It put our parrot's to shame.

Sent by Sarah Havemeyer | 12:51 AM | 4-20-2008

My friend says he once bought a tiny plant with flowers that looked just like "classic old ladies'handbags." Can anyone help me figure out what plant that might be? He really wants one!

Sent by Carol Brydolf | 3:52 PM | 4-23-2008