Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sweetie Pie

We just had two new babies.....Hummingbirds that is.

I have always loved hummingbirds. I love that they dart from place to place, and that they are naturally curious and ornery.

When we lived in California, we were befriended by "Ruby" a male Hummingbird that decided to take up residence in our front yard (we had a feeder that he liked to frequent). He stayed with us until we moved 18 months later. We left the feeder and food for the new owner and begged her to look out for Ruby but when I drove by the house six months later, the feeder was gone and Ruby had moved on.

It wasn't as if Ruby had taken to us instantly. In fact, in the first few months, he would routinely buzz us (and the dogs) if we dared venture too close to where he was feeding. Gradually, he grew to trust us and would come say hello to us without hesitation. He would hover within a foot of us for a few seconds and then fly off and sit on his feeder (three feet away), watching the world go by with us as we relaxed in our chairs.

So around three weeks ago, it was with great pleasure I discovered that a female Hummingbird had built a nest in our Mesquite tree in our back yard and appeared to be expecting. The kids named her "Sweetie Pie" and over the past few weeks, her trust in our family (albeit loud and chaotic at times) has continued to build. Her feeder is two trees over and is situated by our lawn chairs. She now routinely feeds while we are only a couple of feet away and does the same hovering maneuver as our beloved "Ruby."

In the meantime, I did some research on Hummingbirds and found out they usually sit on two eggs for two to three weeks and that those eggs are about the size of peas, and the chicks are born without feathers. Not surprisingly, bad weather (in particular, rain and cold), is a threat to both the nest and the eggs. So, a few days ago, I was quite unhappy when we experienced a sudden cold snap and received nearly an inch of rain in a mere 24 hours. We have been facing drought conditions, so ordinarily, the rain would have been a welcome event. This time, however, I just fretted about Sweetie Pie and her eggs.

Thankfully, her nest stayed anchored throughout the torrential rain, unrelenting wind (40 mph plus at times) and pea sized hail. All the while, we checked on her (OK, so I made Colin check on her after the worst night of rain and wind, I was too nervous to look first hand). Her nest survived, she was looking cold and miserable but she sat tight and kept her eggs warm.

So this morning when I found pea sized egg shells underneath her nest, I wasn't quite sure what to think. I didn't hear any chirping or see any little heads peering over her, oh so small little nest. But Sweetie Pie was sitting there peering down on us, so I was hoping her hatchlings were safely in her nest. Finally, my curiosity got the best of me and I hauled out our six foot ladder and took a peek when she was out feeding. I could barely make out the two little hatchlings. They were so tiny, so quiet, and so still, but I could see they were breathing. Later in the afternoon, Sweetie Pie seemed to wait for my visit beneath her tree, she hovered in front of me for a moment, and seemed to say "right, you have the kids, I need to get them some food, hold down the fort and I will be back shortly," then she flew off, fed for a few minutes before returning to her nest and dismissing me.

I hope we can see the little tykes soon. the kids have been thrilled with such exciting goings ons. OK, I have been thrilled too. What a treat, a very 'sweet' treat!!!


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