69 BIRD WATCHER’S DIGEST • JULY/AUGUST ’ 17 • birdwatchersdigest.com
come midsummer, the fledglings
joined her in my yard.
Each year I would catch a fleeting glimpse of a glorious male in
early spring, presumably on his
way to a more nectar-rich environment, and each year I would
wishfully add another planting
bed of bright tubular flowers.
Finally, last year I was graced
with a stunning male for the
entirety of spring and summer.
From sunrise to sunset, he proudly surveyed his territory from atop
my lookout sapling. By midsummer, the male and as many as
four other females and fledglings
could be seen darting to and fro.
The entertaining sights I’ve
witnessed have been equal or
better than any I have enjoyed
on nature television programs.
My time, effort, and financial
investment have been more than
generously repaid. I now have a
front-row seat to hummingbird
behavior that, until now, I had
only read about in magazines
such as Bird Watcher’s Digest.
Territorial and feisty, their
acrobatics and aerial combat are
reminiscent of fighter jets. Not
only do they vigorously defend
their nectar sources from each
other, but from other perceived
threats as well, including birds
much greater in size! I chuckle
every time I see a song sparrow,
robin, or mourning dove hightail
it off my property with a hummingbird in hot pursuit.
I’ve witnessed firsthand the
spectacular male courtship flight,
in which he repeatedly climbs
and drops in a U-shape above
a perched female, all the while
displaying his glistening gorget.
Launching from my embedded
branch, they deftly snatch hovering insects from midair only
feet away from my lawn chair.
What a show! Perhaps the most
astonishing revelation has been to
witness the usually fearless hummers being routed right out of
the garden by the comparatively
minuscule silver spotted skipper
butterflies—something I would
not have believed had I not seen it
with my very own eyes!
My yard now lives up to the
“hummingbird crossing” sign I
ambitiously erected when this venture began and the outcome was
still very much in doubt. My patch
of earth is now a haven for them
and a refuge for me.
One can only wonder what the
cumulative effect would be if landowners of all kinds enhanced their
patch of earth for wildlife. There is
no doubt in my mind that they will
come. Only one question remains:
Will you build it? a
Fourth-grade teacher Kevin
Walsh resides in Miller Place,
New York, where he enjoys the
many gifts of the great outdoors.
His story “My Life-or-Death
Lifer” appeared in the May/June
2007 issue of BWD.