This is a story that happened quickly and left me smiling. Like most good stories, no one asked for permission, and there was no time to prepare. So the photos are not the best quality. They are taken from my office out the window, with my iPhone. One of the windows in my office has sun screens—a heavier version of bug screens, and they are visible as moire patterns in the photos. Here’s an excellent clip of how moire patterns happen.
The story is about a hummingbird—several of them, and one of my cats. No birds are harmed in this story, and none of the cats were either, although Buster is frustrated at the end.
My office is in a corner of the house. Through two windows I have a view of both the street and of a large vase on my porch filled with curly willow branches. The curly willow branches provide rest for the hummingbirds in the hottest part of the day. The branches are in the shade, and the hummingbirds will sit and preen for hours in the mid-afternoon, when the temperature tops 110. They’ll sit for a few minutes, go drink at the hummingbird feeder (off screen) and come back.
At this time of year, we get the first migrating hummingbirds. Arizona has plenty of varieties, but in September through October, the migrators double the amount of birds at the feeders.
One of the year-round hummingbirds declared himself the protector of the feeder. When another bird comes to the feeder, he chirps angrily and dive bombs them until they leave. He is content to chase only other hummingbirds. The finches, juncos, albino woodpecker and golden-crowned kinglets, hardly bigger than hummingbirds, are left alone.
One recent afternoon, with the blinds open, the hummingbird watched me as I worked. One
of my cats, the tuxedo-dressed Buster, was draped on my desk to pick up the breeze from the ceiling fan. The hummingbird left his perch and flew to the other window and sat down on the sill. Buster is near-sighted and missed the temptation at first. Then he saw the bird, and began to make that yakking sound cats make when they can’t believe that a snack is so close and so unreachable.
The hummingbird must have known what a window and screen are, because he simply sat while Buster tried to get through the window. The hummingbird loves this fun, so he repeats it every afternoon, like a bad soap opera. And it always ends the same way–the bird gets bored and flies off, Buster retreats, grumbling, and I clean the windowpane.
—Quinn McDonald is a writer and watcher of nature.