Birder's Eye View

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hummingbirds

"In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence." - Robert Lynd

These pictures are from a forwarded email that several people have sent me, so I thought I'd post a few of them on the blog.

Apparently, Abigail Alfano of Pine, LA, lives in a hummingbird migration route. Wanting to hold on of the birds, she slowly got them used to her presence by standing near her feeders, and then one day, tried putting the feed in her hand.

According to her website, "Within ten minutes, they were resting in my hands, drinking. It was sheer delight for me!"

I can relate to the feeling. Last summer at a birding camp in Maine, I watched while ornithologist Scott Weidensaul banded a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. He showed us how to take measurements, and snap the miniscule metal band onto the bird's leg.

Afterwards, he asked the camp director to choose someone to release the hummingbird. My heart skipped a beat when he pointed to me. Me? Seriously?

All I remember was that it was intensely quiet as I followed Scott up away from the small crowd of other birders. He told me to lay my hand flat and hold very still.

When he moved his hand away from mine, the tiny bird was laying there. I hardly heard the snapping of cameras, or the soft voices Oooing and Aaahing. I couldn't feel the bird in my hand, she was so light. I could see her long eyelashes, and the curved line smudged across her chest, marking that she had been sitting in a nest somewhere.

Then suddenly, her wings vibrated to life, and she took off over my shoulder. I felt her fly through a lock of my hair, and looked down at my empty palm. I couldn't help laughing; it was the most profoundly quiet, amazing few seconds I had ever experienced.

Months later (I think it was September), one of the birders who had been there sent me the picture above.

So, I have a special place in my heart for hummingbirds. What truly fascinating little creatures!

Happy birding!

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3 Comments:

  • so you met Scott? Darn! i haven't run into him yet.
    I love your story. It sounds like it was really exciting.

    That takes a lot of patience to get the little birds to come sit on your hand. lol patience I don't have.

    Hummingbirds are soo cool!!! Especially that Green-breasted Mango that showed up in Beloit WI last fall!

    By Blogger Parus, At April 26, 2008 at 12:59 AM  

  • Scott Weidensaul was so neat; he really inspired me. He told such great stories and he knew SO MUCH about birding!

    I think birding in general takes a lot of patience. :-) Some times I have more patience others...

    Green-breasted Mango -- that must have been cool! I'd love to see one of those one day.

    Happy birding! -Andrea

    By Blogger A., At April 26, 2008 at 7:23 PM  

  • The Mango was a very cool bird!

    Here's the pictures:
    http://web.mac.com/stoneageoutpost/RC_Birding/My_Albums/Pages/Green-Breasted_Mango.html

    I have pictures of the Anna's Hummingbird that showed up in Madison last fall too.
    They can be found here:
    http://web.mac.com/stoneageoutpost/RC_Birding/My_Albums/Pages/Annas_Hummingbird.html

    Last fall was the year for rare Hummers. At one point, I think there were 4 or 5 species in the state.

    By Blogger Parus, At April 26, 2008 at 7:43 PM  

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