Tuesday, August 16, 2011
The late season humming birds are in full flight. According to most bird books the vast majority of humming birds I feed on a regular basis are only flying through on a long migration. And some bird books maintain that New Mexico is not their major flyway but Arizona. I think that has been wrong for a decade but never more wrong than this year when the Arizona fires pushed them west.
Now, whether it is two species or twenty, is when they head south. I will be filling up my quart feeder at least once a day until almost as suddenly as they came they are gone.
The cliff swallows are gone. Again as suddenly as they came. They hatched out a brood and got them all flying and for about a week hung around on insect catching lessons or some such. I got to watch them with their just above the ground aerial antics and then silence. I remember my dad and his love for Purple Martins. They always arrived to set up house keeping in the elaborate Martin houses he built on my mother's birthday - March 29th. And they left the houses for the trees with the new crop about the 1st of August. On Dad's birthday, August 15th, they left every year but the year he died. I can remember them in the trees outside his ICU room for a week beyond that. Until the day he flew away with them.
People laugh at me when I declare a day in early to mid-August as the first day of fall, but the wind does change. And not merely direction but feel and smell. The birds must sense it too because it seems to be a signal to hit the road. Soon all the summer birds will be gone and I will be left with the "natives" which every year seem more varied. We even get Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles all year long now. Once most species of hawks were migratory but now I am as like to see a Red Tail in December as in June. Ravens and Magpies are always around. And I feed any number of little birds which yearly seems to grow in number - Pine Siskins, Juncos, Chickadees.
There has been a lot of talk this last week about how strange the weather has gotten globally. Those that have scoffed at global warming theories have been rather quiet. I really didn't need Al Gore or teams of scientists to tell me the times they are a changing. I saw it in the birds that stop by to say hi. And those that stay. And those that have moved in where once they were just occasional.
So as the list of things to do before snow flies grows I find myself spending more time with my transitory friends and camera. I guess in someways I am more the grasshopper than the ant.