Earlier last week, one of the hummingbird babies left the nest. That left her “brother” behind. For two, almost three, days, Mama continued to feed him. Then one day, he flew a bit falteringly and landed on an oleander branch near the nest. There he stayed for hours. Mama fed him where he was. She flew in place to show him how it’s done. She flew away and came back. But she was always right there in the vicinity, helping him transition to an adult hummer. In this video you can see them in action.
Pretty cool video, I think!
My DIL told me that one of their hummingbird babies flew before the other, and that before the “runt” could leave the nest, Mama disappeared. Seeing how devoted these birds are to their babies, I can only surmise that something tragic happened to the mother. But, guess what? The more advanced sibling began to feed the one left in the nest, and eventually that one joined his brother or sister flying across the sky.
For those of you who don’t have hummingbirds by you, remember that their nest is barely larger than a golf ball, so these birds are very small.
Let me say this up front: have a thoughtful Memorial Day. You might want to read posts from blogger Joy Neal Kidney who writes about her grandparents who lost three beloved sons during WWII. As Joy reminded on Instagram the other day, Memorial Day is to honor and remember those who died serving the United States. Veteran’s Day is for those who served and came home. We do tend to blur this distinction. Since so many who die in battle are young, they often leave no children behind. In part for this reason, more of us have veterans in our families or are veterans ourselves, and it is left to nieces and nephews to mourn the fallen family member. In my own family, only one person died during war for the United States (my ancestors arrived in the 1800s, so it’s possible that some siblings of my ancestors perished in war for their countries. This young man was the younger and newly arrived from the Netherlands brother of my great-grandmother’s brother-in-law. That doesn’t sound like a close relation, but our family was small and close and I knew Aunt Jen very well until she passed away when I was twelve. After being in the United States for less than a year, Gerrit Leeuwenhoek volunteered for this country in the Spanish-American war and was shipped to Cuba where he died of malaria. This letter was sent to Uncle Lou and Aunt Jen.
Later, Uncle Lou had Gerrit’s remains moved to the cemetery in Kalamazoo.
The dove kids are thriving. We see them hanging out on the railing near the plant that held their nest.
The hummingbird mama is doing well taking care of her twins. She feeds them regularly. Here she is sitting on them.
May is when the saguaros blossom. This year has been a little bit different, though, because they are blossoming more generously. Usually they bloom off the “top of their heads.” But this year the flowers trail down the sides as if there are so many they are spilling over. Nobody seems to know why, though they have made guesses. The gardener says it’s because we didn’t have much rain this year. Click on the image and you can see the flowers growing out of the sides of the tree.
I’ve been reading a novel manuscript, and Kana has been spending her time in the manuscript box, even as it gets filled up with the just-read pages.
My sweet Pear (the 21-year-old) seemed to be unwell, but now I think that she was having trouble getting up and down from the couch–and that in the early morning hours Perry was traumatizing her with his attention. I tried putting things in front of the couch so that she would have a “stairs” of sorts, but she is too fragile to learn something like that at this point. Finally, I had an epiphany. I needed to subtract from the couch instead of adding to it. I took out one of the seat cushions. Now she can step down to the couch without the cushion and then on to the floor. And Perry is now locked in our bedroom at night. What is surprising is that he’s being so good although he can’t roam the house.
Sorry for annoying you with some of my journal pages, but I am enjoying it so much and you can always skip :).
This one is in a very small book. The quote is from a poem called “Sisters” by James Lineberger.
And this one is all about the memories.
I’m moving forward on the memoir, and I would definitely call it a hybrid at this point. I hope a few people like it when I’m done because I feel better writing this version than any of the previous 18 versions. (No, not kidding). I really hope it works this time. Needless to say.
I’m not sending too much out right now, but just thought I’d let you know I have a new poetry book in the works!!! (Shhh) Yeah, but publication date will be in 2022. That sounds so far away! More info to come.
Happy National Poetry Month! Are you doing anything special to celebrate? Even if you’re not a poet, why not try reading a poem a day? For something new, try this site for Vandal Poem of the Day: https://poetry.lib.uidaho.edu/ I start out the day reading 2-3 poems all year around, but I have four new books of poetry to read this month as well.
Rather than writing a draft a day as I have some Aprils, I am working on Scrap, my hybrid memoir. Each piece is the size of a prose poem, so I am trying to write 5/week. Because it’s more difficult than writing new poem drafts, I can’t challenge myself to 7/week. I need a little off-time. Also, my stupid snakes and birds eye needs a break. That’s what happens now for the most part to my vitreous detachment plagued eye: undulating snakes over the eye’s surface and bird swarms in the sky.
WordPress’ new upgrade has made it even more difficult to use the classic editing feature. It’s a bummer to me because I don’t like the other blogging sites nearly as much, but I don’t want to learn something new that is this complicated. When I first started my blogs in 2012, the process was completely intuitive. This stupid new WP setup is non-intuitive.
Are you learning to sucessfully use the block editing madness? If so, do you have any tips?
The weather is gorgeous right now in Phoenix. It is very summery with that soft morning air that makes me think I’m living in a resort climate (I guess I am). Add all the gardener’s winter flowers to the vision, and it’s just lovely. But April leads to May, which means that we need to change out the flowers next month for summer flowers.
Check out Amy Bess Cohen’s new book based on her family history. I wrote a review and posted it on The Family Kalamazoo: https://wp.me/p2K45r-22h You can find the link for the book over there. The story is very unique as it’s about her great-great grandfather, a young Jewish immigrant from Germany around the time of the Civil War, and how he moves to Santa Fe, becoming one of the pioneers of that city.
I called the Southwest Wildlife place again on the bobcat. The woman who takes the questions is not very helpful. Her attitude is that he belongs in our yard. My thought is that since I DON’T want him trapped and removed, she ought to be more helpful. The way she acts, a lot of callers would just hang up and call a trapper. She said, “We’re a WILDLIFE place.” Yeah, that’s the point. Don’t you want to help people with wildlife so that the wildlife is helped?
Leaving you with some cute pix from my kids.
The baby hummingbirds are from son and daughter(IL) in Orange County, CA. These chubbies who were hatched on the balcony left the nest on Friday.
This next pic is from daughter and her fiance. My fur grandkids who live in Arizona.
I hope you and yours are all well, and that you are handling all this chaos and sometimes isolation.
We had some sad news this weekend. My cousin’s son passed away after all those weeks in a coma/on a ventilator/ on dialysis. He left behind a 6-year-old son, wife, mother and father, sister, and grandfather. I feel very sad for him, as well as for his son and wife. And my cousin and her husband have had a lot of tragedy in their lives before this, so it’s just too too much.
I have to stretch to find something positive right now to share as I want to retreat to my couch with an ice cream bar. I saw a cute hummingbird and took a couple of lousy pix and a short movie. And today is my birthday, by the way. A big one. Woohoo. Heh.
I can’t figure out what kind of hummingbird this one is. We live in Maricopa County, so I looked up hummers in this area, and he/she doesn’t really look like any of the ones pictured. The closest would be a male black-chinned hummingbird.
My mom got me this book of cute poems by kittens. It was written by the same author of I Can Pee on This.
It’s been five years since the hummingbird mama grew two babies to adulthood in a nest right outside my back door–and then a few weeks later nurtured a second nest of babies! I was lucky enough to capture on video a baby leaving the nest in flight for its very first time.
Now it’s May once again, and we have two hummingbird nests in the yard! These are in the front yard–one in an oleander tree and the other in a wind mobile.
See her nest right there in the middle of the photo?
Look for the mama in the next photo! It’s a little harder haha.
She looks like she’s trying to blend right in. Here she and the nest are from a different angle.
Right underneath the mobile are a few flats of flowers that we have not yet planted. She keeps going to them for nectar as if we set them there for her babies.
Maybe these mamas are the babies of the ones I saw fly off into their lives!
Cat news: Perry is so stinken smart. It’s become clear that he absolutely knows what “Hold on” means and is willing to do it every time I say it. If we are walking somewhere in the house (he follows me), and I have to turn back for something, I say, “Hold on.” He then sits right where he is and waits for me to come back and then picks up following me again! If I were so inclined I think our boy might be trainable for Youtube.
One last note: I hope these mama hummingbirds and my cute boy Perry give you a little glimpse of hope after a tragic and sad week. Here is Emily Dickinson on the subject of hope:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers – That perches in the soul – And sings the tune without the words – And never stops – at all –
OK, here is my catchall post. Last year at this time my father had just passed away and I had my second set of hummingbird babies to look after. Mac, my oldest cat, was dying.
Since the hummingbird had laid her eggs outside my window two years in a row, we were hopeful she would return this year. I suspect she too has now passed away. Her nest is empty and disintegrating.
Why is this woman putting a watermark on this ugly photo, you might ask. I would ask that, even if I didn’t articulate it. Answer: just cause. It’s part of my turning over a new leaf goal.
If you think this is the only abandoned nest around me, think again. There are at least two more.
If you haven’t seen this video about a hummingbird, it will start your weekend off right!
What else is happening (or not happening) in my life?
Flowers are happening, thank goodness.
The above flowers are a sample from a decorative pot. We have these in beds, too. After realizing that a lot of colors (pink, purple, pastel, YELLOW) don’t look well with our gold-toned stucco, we found that by putting a variety of strong colors together–reds, oranges, burgundies, rusts, blues, whites–that they look great!
Lots of cactus flowers this year, too!
The reason I leave a lot of the gardening to my live-in gardener is because Arizona gardening can be dangerous. This is just one reason why.
These agave thorns have messed up my gardener more than once. Very very painful.
Although I pick up my mail outside amidst the flowers and empty nests, I bring it inside to open it (usually). Yesterday I got a “catalog” from the symphony with next year’s options. Look at this.
Shostakovich and Cello right next to each other! I don’t think so. Not after my last experience with both. I wrote about it in Hypersensitive to a Sound?
But the good news is they are performing Vaughn Williams. Woot!
Another item that came in the mail was a lion costume for my cats. It looked so cute online, but when I got it I saw that it wasn’t for cats at all, but for kittens. To try it on Felix, I had to add a long piece of velcro under his chin. And it doesn’t look near as cute as in the advertisement because it needs a tiny kitten face so that the “mane” overwhelms it. But Felix is very good humored and let me fool around with it anyway.
So what else is new around here, you might ask? Well, you might not, but I will ask it for you. Just . . . so . . . I . . . can . . . show you the new resident at my house!
Yes, we are fostering Slupe!!! I couldn’t let her stay at the shelter any longer. TWO YEARS. She has her own room for now, with a view of bunnies, birds, and lizards. I will write more after she’s been here a little longer.
Everyone, have a lovely weekend. For my American peeps, Happy Memorial Day. Keeping those I’ve lost in my heart.
Last week was very hot in Phoenix. A couple of days were 115 degrees and all days were well over 100. Earlier this spring the weather was beautiful, which motivated some birds into filling their nests with eggs a second time. But now that we have a very hot June, the heat has taken its toll on the inhabitants of our outdoor nursery.
It’s way too hot for baby birds.
Thursday afternoon we found a baby bird (starling? sparrow?) that had fallen from a very high nest. He wasn’t quite a full fledgling yet, and he fell onto our upper deck, which was not a good place for Mama to take care of him. We ended up having to take him to the wildlife rehabilitation facility. Friday morning, his sister found herself in the same situation. She was taken to stay with her brother.
Saturday morning, hubby found a baby that was still a nestling, on the ground. Many baby birds do fall out of the nest before they fly, but he was clearly not ready and looked as if he were dying. I rushed him over to the caring rehabilitation and they administered fluids right away.
Humans have to be careful taking baby birds away from their mothers who may be nearby and feeding them. But in these cases, the heat was going to kill the birds first. Baby birds need some heat to thrive, but too much heat is deadly.
So you might be wondering how the hummingbird babies are doing.
On Saturday, almost exactly a month since the first 2015 batch of hummingbirds left the nest, the second batch followed their siblings out into the big world–or, at least, our neighborhood.
In preparation, Mama fed both babies, as she had been doing since they hatched from their eggs.
Although my videos aren’t very good, they will lead you to quality hummingbird videos posted by other people.
The larger, stronger, bolder brother (they could be sisters or a brother and a sister, but I think they are brothers)began flapping his wings, testing them out, and he gave encouragement to his brother. Then, on Saturday, he flew out of the nest, while Mama and brother watched.
He landed on a rock of our fountain, where he stayed for a few minutes until he got his courage. During that time, Mama flew back and forth between the nest and the rock.
After he flew off to explore, Mama spent several hours coaxing the skinnier, more timid baby from the nest. She fed him a few more times and even groomed him just a bit, as if to say, “I want you to look presentable out there in the world. Appearances matter. Show our predators that you are confident and know how to take care of yourself.” In this photo, she has turned her back on him momentarily, maybe to rest?
I was so impressed that Mama spent so much time with her offspring. She showed him what to do by flying out of the nest and returning to him repeatedly.
Eventually it worked and he flew off when Mama was out of the nest.
When I saw the empty nest I was a little sad, but wait: he came back several times, resting on the edge of the nest.
Saturday night and Sunday he didn’t come back. He’s off discovering his world, too.
All four hummingbirds that were raised in this nest have, no doubt, found the world to be a bit different from that of his siblings. I hope they all find it a pleasant place where they are rewarded for their hard work and don’t find any predators that can’t be avoided.
That’s it now for hummingbirds. It’s too hot to be creative here, but I am going to jumpstart the creativity by taking an online course in “flash essays.” I am hoping to learn how to write in a more cutting edge style. And I think I’m going to need the structure as I can see the summer melting away.
A little update on the hummingbird situation. A hummingbird has been sleeping in the nest on and off. I don’t know if it’s Mama or one of the youngsters. When we first noticed it, hubby got out the ladder and checked–no eggs. Since the bird has been in the nest for several hours now, I’m wondering if she did manage to lay more eggs. I guess we will eventually find out.
I’m taking a blog break for a week or so.
I hope your spring is magical. Until we meet again . . . .
I have a DOLL GOD Giveaway going on at Goodreads right now. Hop on over there and sign up if you want to win a free copy!
Last year a hummingbird built a compact nest on the top of a decorative ornament that hands outside my back door. It features a glass ball set in a copper wire design. She built the nest in May, and being Arizona, it became quite warm and the sun beat down on the little nest. Hubby stapled a board up to protect the nest.
The mother sat diligently on the nest for many weeks, but finally left and never came back. We discovered one unhatched egg in the nest. We took the nest and egg and “shellacked” it and put it in our bookcase as a reminder of the little mother’s persistence.
When she came back and began to build another nest in the same spot this year, hubby and I were concerned. However, she built it in April, not May, and she deposited two eggs, which is the typical number for hummingbirds.
We watched the whole process, and this time we were all blessed. After we could see beaks poking up above the rim of the nest, hubby climbed up on a ladder and took this pic.
I captured the mother feeding babies here:
Then one day their little heads popped up way above the nest, as they awaited food from their mama.
Here is a still pic of mama feeding babies that are her own size:
One morning I got up, checked the nest, and discovered it empty. I was a little sad that they had disappeared without saying goodbye. That’s when I noticed that one of the two birds was still near the nest, that he hadn’t taken flight yet! He was perched on the ornamental wire above the nest, trying to get up his courage to fly for the first time. And guess what I captured with my iPhone? Watch the top of the light colored area in the frame. Be patient; it isn’t very long, but takes a few seconds before I get the right angle.
For a few hours they flew around the area, even coming up to our picture window and looking in (whirring in place) several times. The next day I saw a hummingbird in one of my trees and wondered if it was mama or one of the “babies.”
These guys kept me focused for a few weeks on the miracles.