Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wait and See

I have seen video clips of hummingbird feeders where there appeared to be a ton of happy birds coming and going to the feeders. That hasn't been my experience. We found years ago that the more feeders you put up, the worse the fighting became between hummingbirds that thought they owned them all. I would guess there are about five that are currently visiting our yard; maybe one or two more. Most are females like this bird. Most of my time is spent just sitting and waiting with only occasional spurts of camera activity.

Last year, I used a mandevilla flower as a background for the hummingbirds. It was a beautiful deep red trumpet flower. I thought it looked too "Christmasy" and wanted to try something else this year. I settled on this flower called Torenia or wishbone plant. I am not too wild on it, though, and neither are the hummingbirds. This was one of the few times one checked out the plant.

With all that time to just sit and wait, I have the opportunity to watch other birds in the area. We are surrounded by trees so, at times, there can be a lot of activity, especially early and late in the day. If you have never seen a bird sunbathe, you might think there is something wrong with them. This Tufted Titmouse spread itself out on the roof shingles for several minutes. Then it jumped into a crepe myrtle to preen. The heat helps them to spread the oil from their glands and care for their feathers.

A day or two later, this female Northern Cardinal landed on the gutter to sunbathe for a while. I thought she looked rather comical. She stayed for several minutes too before flying off. Sometimes a bird will sunbathe after taking a bath to dry their feathers and, in winter, they may be trying to warm up. Sunbathing can also help to control parasites.

This little bird is, I believe, a Warbling Vireo. I see a lot of little gray birds flitting about the leaves on the trees in search of bugs. Some are flycatchers, some are warblers and other species. Unless you are looking for them, you might not even notice how common this type of activity is.

A couple of years ago, I was waiting for hummingbirds again when I saw a Carolina Chickadee with a green worm like the little Vireo in the last photo. Look at the way he is slapping his foot down on the worm to hold it in place.

I laughed out loud when I saw what he did next. He stretched that puppy out to the point of snapping, but it didn't break. Look how the part behind his foot is normal and how taut the rest of it is. These little comedies are going on all the time, but we rarely see them. That is, unless you are waiting for hummingbirds to come to your feeder.

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