For the Birds Radio Program: Allison Carrico's Hummingbird Story
Alison’s Hummingbird Story Every now and then I read a story about how birds touch our hearts. I often read an internet magazine, Salon, and follow some of their discussion threads. This week’s selection as “Post of the Week” was written by Alison Carrico [KARE-ik-o] She wrote,
“I have very fond memories of many summers at my grandparents’ cabin in the Arizona mountains watching hummingbirds at the feeders we always put out. In my “ornithologist phase” (9-12) I simply observed, in my “artistic phase” (14-17) I tried like the devil to sketch or paint them, [and] in my adult life I have just watched in rapt fascination as they fought silly territorial battles with each other and the Stellar’s Jays.
Somehow, it was always a Rufus hummer (and I’d be willing to bet a fair amount of money that it was always the same one, so tenacious and combative was he) who held sway over the feeders. He’d spark down to take a sip and then buzz off to a convenient branch a couple feet away. I’d watch him, sitting contentedly, fat and happy, almost hidden in the foliage, watching the world go by, until some brazen interloper would Dare to approach His feeder. Then he’d swoop down making more noise than you would reasonably expect from such a tiny creature, shrilly rebuking the trespasser in tones that could rival my stentorian grandmother (whose displeasure still makes me tremble when she discovers an improperly closed door or crumbs on the kitchen counter). He spent easily four-fifths of his time chasing off the Rubies and other Rufuses who thought, vainly, that they could get a good meal, and the remaining fifth [of his time] gathering nourishment to sustain his own obstreperousness. Many times, I had to shrink down into my chair because the self-proclaimed King of the Mountain buzzed uncomfortably close to my head.”
Alison continues, “Last summer, when I went out to the cabin for vacation and then again, six weeks later, when The Family trooped up to the cabin where we were to bury my beloved grandfather’s ashes, I spent a great deal of time out on the deck watching the epic battles between the varieties of hummers, the Stellar’s jays and the bluejays, the woodpeckers and the jays, the jays and the squirrels, trying to get good digital pictures on my Brand New Camera that my grandparents had helped me buy and feeling that my attention to the local wildlife was a tribute to my grandpa who had spent so many years building this cabin, trying to minimize the negative impact to the local wildlife and battling with the woodpeckers who were determined to peck it to bits.
The anniversary of his death is coming up this weekend and I think I will mark the occasion by finally hanging the hummingbird feeder that a friend gave me for my birthday. I really didn’t mean for this post to go all maudlin, but hummingbirds are, for me, inextricably bound to my grandparents’ cabin and, therefore, to Dad (that’s what I grew up calling my grandpa) who left us last year very unexpectedly but very bravely. I didn’t get to the cabin this summer because of money issues, and I missed it desperately, but if I can attract a few hummers to my yard it will evoke those lovely long, hot days on the deck and perhaps speed a few on to their winter residences in Mexico.
That was Alison Carrico, and I’m Laura Erickson, speaking For the Birds.