Tuesday, December 24, 2013
"Hummingbird alert!" I cried, and Tom looked up. Out the window a redheaded hummer was probing the frozen feeder. It was actually kitty Webster’s clacking jaws that tipped me off to the hummingbird’s presence. "I think he’s licking the feeder like a popsicle,” Tom said. And considering how many times the tiny bird returned to dip into the feeder, I think Tom was exactly right. The one feeder that hangs in view of the dining room window is visited often by the tiny birds, and the pleasure of seeing their iridescent feathers and their whirring wings is worth the effort of keeping the feeder from freezing. Most nights I remember to bring it inside to stay warm, and take it back out in the morning, but sometimes, in the flurry of activities, I forget. So soon after the popsicle incident, I purchased one more feeder so that I can more easily rotate them when the temperatures plummet. It’s the least I can do for these brave little birds who stay here through our iffy winters. Aside from the feeder, the hummingbirds are in love with Mahonia ‘Arthur Menzies,’ which is loaded with upright spikes of yellow flowers. It’s about the only nectar source in this December’s garden and if I’d known what a cold winter we’d be facing I’d have planted two more. No matter, this plant is at least ten years old and stands eight feet tall and five feet wide with enough blossoms for a hundred hummers. This year the evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum) produced a bumper crop, and fortunately for the foraging sparrows, most of the tiny, tart berries are still on the branches in December. Like the hummingbird feeder, the huckleberry bush stands right in front of the dining room window, a perfect place for Webster to ogle the birds and clack his jaws some more. For His Majesty’s comfort (he is quite regal, with fur as soft as angora) I’ve placed a bench by the window, with pillows on it, where he can dream of hunting without doing any damage.