Friday, September 2, 2011

For the Birds

    I just gave the dogs their biweekly baths, brushed their coats to reduce shedding in the house (Futile? Maybe.), and trimmed their nails. The dogs don't mind any of it—at least from the point where I turn off the water in the tub and allow them to shake dry. You can see it on their faces; they gleefully await the moment when I lift them from the tub and they shake so vigorously they often lose their footing, desperate to get the evil water off their backs!
   We're all hanging out on the deck (all three of us need to dry off!), enjoying all the sensations of late summer. The sight of the overgrown clematis, finally in brilliant bloom again, illuminated by the setting sun; the smell of fresh lavender; the sound of crickets softly chirping, outdone by the official soundtrack of summer the noisy cicada.
   A hear another sound that I love: the hummingbirds are back on their migration route through the Midwest and are especially active at dusk, when other birds have quieted. I always hear them before I see them; they're quite chirpy, chatty little birds. They light on the mulberry tree branches or the cable lines to stake out the best perch from which to approach the feeder.
   I stood on the deck less than eight feet from the feeder and watched them zip by, buzzing like a live wire, chasing each other out of their territory. (In the next photo, the blur on the right side is another bird swooping in to dethrone the poor lil' guy trying to take a drink!)
   Suddenly a female swooped down and hung in the air just inches in front of me—close enough to touch—wings beating so fast they were imperceptible; body barely bobbing in the summer breeze. I was wearing a vibrant red shirt, and she seemed to be sizing me up: was I a threat, or a tall drink of nectar? She pondered for several seconds--until a ruddy male swooped down and chased her off from "his" giant flower. They buzzed off into the weeping willow tree and disappeared. 
   I waited quietly and watched for a while, snapping photos, hoping to capture the fleeting creatures. They seemed fairly carefree about the dogs and me being so close. Their tiny heads were too full of thoughts of warmer climates, love, battles with rivals, and... pure sugar. 
Nothing sweeter than enjoying wildlife so close to home!