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Ketzel's Garden

Hummingbirds: Name That Syndrome

I've refrained from mentioning my little "rats with wings" (yes, that's what an NPR colleague calls them, and with good reason, she says) until all the emotion died down. Not your enthusiasm, no, nor your pleas that I get back to plants (which I did), but my own sadness since the morning I woke up and found a syndrome in the place of nesting birds.

The good news is that I got to watch each of my two little tidbits flitter around the nest once they'd fledged, under the strict supervision of Mama. To witness such intimacy, so much flapping to get from branch to nearby branch ...

And the way Mama remained within inches of their every move once beyond the nest! I even got to see her feed them while she hovered mid-air, though in truth her maneuver reminded me of a far less romantic aerial refueling.

Here's one of the last shots I got before big boy here — always the more active of the two — left the nest for good. By next morning, he/she was flying solo, under Mama's constant watch. photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR hide caption

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photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR

One of the sweetest things I witnessed was when the little guy left behind was rejoined by her/his nestmate after a long, cold day alone (how I suffered for her!). The next day, the proverbial nest was empty, and has remained so. But to my great joy, the family remains in my garden playing hide, seek and eat while enjoying the shelter of my dense Pittosporum 'Tall'n'Tough' as its primary habitat.

I'm guessing this was fledgling #1 because he/she always seemed to have more personality: more curious, always busy and ever-grooming. I suspect he/she is looking forward to the end of my fascination; posing is such hard work. photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR hide caption

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photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR

Though I am reluctant to call too much attention to "what the birds have taught me", I have had quite a few more wake-up calls re:turning fantasy and projection into fact. Shortly after baby #2 fledged, I couldn't find any of the birds. Nowhere. Not one. And earlier that same day I'd heard a scream, like a baby but not quite. So I immediately concluded the entire family had been massacred by a murder of crows.

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Also, as you might remember, I was all in a flutter that one of the three original babies was dead. Another fearful projection made real. See for yourself, and blame me not! I am, alas, morbidly human.

What I first thought were three mouths are in fact only two. The bird on the right has its beak wide, wide open, while on the left, you can only see the upper beak. So much for my powers of observation but wow, what a learning curve. photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR hide caption

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photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR

Thanks to all of you who have encouraged me to hang with the hummers. I am late to the birding party, but I get it. I get it.