Monday, January 10, 2011

Post Frost Thirsty Hummingbird

As I was doing yoga, poolside this weekend (65F, sunny, light wind, nice Arizona January afternoons), I noticed my girl friend Anna enjoying the lavender that survived the recent frost.  I've started to take my digital camera out with me in my yoga bag carrier, as Anna's gotten quite tame / bold  in drinking from plants within a few feet of me.  After she finishes feeding from the irresistible lavender, she'll strafe within a foot or so from my head, rapidly passing by, as she heads off to one of her perches where she can survey and guard the whole backyard.

Make no mistake, Anna's a very possessive alpha female, and she doesn't like to share. She's not intimidated by the large, slow, clumsy, shirtless, nearly hairless ape in red framed sunglasses on a blue yoga mat who keeps pointing the shiny silver Sony Cyber-shot 7.2 Megapixel camera at her.  She seems to delight in seeing how close she can fly past my head at close range "Why is he so close to my flowers? I'll buzz that ape and see if I can make him flinch."  When I was trying to cover the lantana last week in futility (now completely dead), Anna hovered over the neighbor's back yard, angrily chirping at me "How Dare You cover one of my food sources!" and then from about 50 feet away, she made a bee-line at my head, covering the distance in less than 1 second, stopping 2 feet away (yeah, about 35 MPH, with instant accel and sudden decel, she's an impressive flyer) as she tried to scare me away.  I didn't flinch, and instead, smile (scary - apes baring their teeth!), noting the physics of what she just performed, and it's hard to be afraid of such an apparently harmless and incredibly lovely little bird, when I am as large to her as a whale is to a human diver in relative size.

She doesn't want any Anna's or Costa's or Black Throated humming birds - male or female - sneaking into her delicious lavender, salvias, honey suckle (what little remains of the HS not killed by frost), aloe, nectar feeders, or lemon tree, and she pugnaciously and vociferously chases all avian intruders away.  I even saw her try to intimidate a male mocking bird, twenty times her size, who tried to perch in her ocotillo.
  Ocotillo, edge of lemon tree leaf, or bare mulberry branch in my neighbor's yard, Anna maintains fastidious, possessive vigilance over my back yard.

 In the Winter of 2009-2010, I do not recall having my back yard under surveillance by any one hummingbird - I also didn't spend as much time in the back yard then as I am this year.  But Anna is a welcomed new feature.  I was doing a Ardha Matsyendrasana pose when I saw a Costa's male hummingbird interloper drinking from these lavenders, and I said to myself "Anna's gonna be so p*ssed!" and a moment later, she swooped in, almost skewered the male with her beak, and ran him off, chasing him over the boundary wall, with the "get out! this is mine!" chirp series I hear many times each hour in the back yard.  Anna is no "fading flower", meek little soul - not by a long shot.

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