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Birds of the Western Slope August 12, 2015

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Photo ©DepositPhoto Female hummingbird feeding at a flower.


This is another cloudy August day. I'd like more sun, thank you! But the weather will be what the weather will be.

I'm looking out the south window at our gorgeous trumpet vine. It's larger than we've ever seen it. Before we had it trimmed back, it was trying to climb over the roof! And the flowers are abundant and very large -- perfect for humming-birds. I watch but don't move because these speedsters are extremely wary. It's about time for our Rufous hummers to be here, but I don't see any right now. There's a drab greenish-gray bird hovering over a blossom. A female black-chin I think, since they are more common and I know that they nest in our pinyon pine.

Another greenish-gray bird appears and the first one zooms off. But there's a third similar bird. A bit of aerial conflict as they both fly over the top of the vine.

A moment's quiet is broken with another charging up from a lower bunch of blossoms. It dips into a flower within inches of my window. I've seen videos made with modern high-speed cameras, but I never cease to be amazed. My little bird hovers with its bill deep into the blossom. I can see the blur of its wings and the tail pumping to balance the bird.

I think all of these must be females because there is no flamboyant plumage such as the males are famous for. And I wonder if they are from this year's broods or could they be migrants? Our most common hummer is the black-chin and they nest throughout the west and winter south into Mexico. But this has been an unusual year, so maybe they're already on the move.

But the show begins anew. I count six female hummers feeding (or attempting to feed) from the trumpet vine. I dare not move lest I might spook them. One dips into a blossom. Oops! There's a bee in that one! Now another dips into a blossom very close to my window ... I'm afraid to breathe ... the bird turns in mid-air. It's moving up to my window and I can see the spread tail with its band of black just above the white edges. It moves right up to the window ... gone!

We humans question the furious battles of these tiny birds, but their high metabolism requires a lot of food! And our trumpet vine brings hummers right up to our south window.

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Surface Creek
Evelyn Horn
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