I got told off by a hummingbird the other day. It was a surprisingly pleasant experience. He was a very angry little bird, and laughing at him didn’t calm him down any.
First, I should probably explain my position on hummingbirds. My grandmother fed them, my mother feeds them, I don’t and I get lectured for it on a semi-regular basis. Not just by the hummingbird. Yes, they’re fun to have buzzing around, but hummingbirds come to rely on you keeping those feeders full and I’m realistic about my level of commitment. I’ll plant flowers for them (mostly for the bees, but hummingbirds can take a sip if they’re inclined), but refilling feeders is on my schedule, not theirs, and I don’t want them dependent on me.
Also, I’ve always had cats growing up and they can catch a hummingbird. It’s true. A smart cat knows those little suckers keep coming to the same place, and leap from the most unlikely spots to knock them out of the air as they come and go. Putting a feeder far enough away from anything a cat can launch from means it’s less likely for me to refill it every other day. So, for the good of the hummingbirds, I’ll enjoy them from afar or when visiting people more committed.
The hummingbirds know my position on the subject of their daily Thanksgiving. When I sit outside on my mother-in-law’s patio, relaxing in the shade and a warm summer breeze, they dive bomb me. I’m serious. The Girl thinks it’s hysterical. My mother-in-law is confused and actually apologizes that her hummingbirds have such poor manners.
People, don’t apologize on behalf of a wild bird, it’s ridiculous.
So the other day while we were packing the car and therefore in and out of the house quite a bit, a hummingbird inspected every foot of our roofline. Closely. The Girl followed him around the house watching and reported back. Every foot. Not the roof, just where nice people hang hummingbird feeders. Then he came back and buzzed me, hovered, squeaked (let’s be real, they don’t really chirp like other birds), and zipped up to the roof line above the garage door and scooted along it. He inspected that bit thoroughly, coming back near me to squeak before doing it again.
What did we learn from this? I speak hummingbird. Also, someone else in our little cul-de-sac has feeders and didn’t keep them filled or he would have been there instead of pestering me. Someone taught this flying squeaky toy to come to our area for food, and dropped the ball. Probably a vacation situation.
What else did we learn? That I’m disinclined to take hints from birds. A stray cat shows up and I’ll put a dish of food out. Milk sometimes or leftover meat from dinner. If it’s winter, I’ll even heat it. You’d think I have dozens of strays, but no. At the moment there’s one. That means we have an indoor cat and an outdoor cat. They don’t get along when the indoor cat goes outdoors or we’d have two indoor-outdoor cats. (Cat math isn’t as straightforward as many think, it’s a matter of understanding cats. Yes the outdoor cat appears to be fixed, so the kitten-multiplication formula isn’t necessary.)
And finally, we learned The Girl takes after me. Rather than begging to put up a hummingbird feeder, she started knocking on the neighbors’ doors to remind them to fill their feeders because we had a stray that probably belonged to someone else’s charm (that’s a group of hummingbirds. Isn’t it charming?).
I should probably mention that our indoor and outdoor cats were the closest together that I’ve seen in a long time while watching this bird in his misguided attempts to communicate with us. Neither cat was in hunting mode: the bird was on guard and too high to even consider, but they both lay in the grass (just mowed so it wasn’t offering any concealment, but hey, cats) and watched the bird. Little ears flicking occasionally, tails almost constantly twitching, eyes glued to that bird. That is one great thing about hummingbirds, if there isn’t a feeder the cats can use as bait, they keep the neighborhood felines entertained. Now I want more squirrels.