David E. Steiner

Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon

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A Hummingbird


We came home just a few hours too late to save her. When we walked onto the screened porch we saw her poised against the screen, wings out¬stretched, and we told her, "Hey, little lady, the hummingbird feeder's on the other side of the porch."

When she didn't move, we looked more closely, and saw that she was dead, her beak impaled in the screen, her claws still clenched against the wires, trying to push herself free with her pitiful, weak little legs.

This is the time of year when our multitudes of Selasphorus Platycercus, or broadtails, find themselves in a running (or flying) battle with the dreaded Selasphorus Rufus.

For about two weeks, our broadtails, with their characteristic whistling wing tips, have been trying to get a drink when the feeder has been claimed by the Rufus, who spends a few weeks with us in his leisurely migration to the south. The Rufus is an unusual bird, a loner, and one of the few hummers whose plumage is predomi¬nantly brownish orange. Fiercely territorial, it will claim a feeding ground or feeder and defend it against all comers, perching in a nearby tree or bush and launching a furious as¬sault on any other hummingbirds who dare ap¬proach. For days the level of food remains al¬most the same, as the Rufus is the only con¬sumer.

When he attacks, the broadtails flee, often run¬ning into windows, screens, and each other.

I wondered, as I pushed her beak back through the screen and her limp body fell to the ground, had this poor broadtail been flying from the Ru¬fus when she impaled herself? And what of her little ones, so recently out of the nest, and her mate? Would they wonder what had become of her?

One can look at it from an evolutionary point of view, I suppose; her eyesight was weak, so her death is a way of shutting off that gene supply. Still, I can't help thinking that if we'd been there, she'd still be flying.

Two days later, the Rufus left.




© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner

Allenspark Wind Columns:


Why Allenspark?

Going Riding [August, 1985]


Used Cars

Peace and Quiet [1986]

Liberals & Conservatives

Going to the Movies

The Screened Porch

The Beginning of The Season

The Weather

The Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The End of The Season

The Gift of Time

The Beavers

Addresses [1987]


Watching the Trees Grow

Postal Rates

Changes in Estes Park

Square Dancing at the Pow Wow

Back to the Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The Solstices

Bird Feeders


The Estes Park Hardware Store [1988]


Limousine Service

A Memorial Service

A Hummingbird


A Hiking Trip

The Estes Park Public Library

Wild Life

Riparian Rights [1989]




Mountain Friendliness

A Motorcycle Trip

Satellite Television

“Weaving Mountain Memories”

Hotel Rates in the Old Days

The Price of Propane [1990]

The Front Range Almanac


Modes of Transportation

Miller Moths

My 50th Column

Modern Conveniences

Rock Climbing

On the Death of Otto Walter, Postmaster

Otto’s Memorial Service

A Big Owl Pot-Luck Dinner

A Whine About Telephone Service [1991]

After the Persian Gulf War

Some Changes in the WIND

The Trip to the Mountains

The Mountains in the Summer


Of Dogs, Music, and Children

Muhlenburg County

To My Grandson

The Sale of Longs Peak Inn

World War II  [1992]

Murphy’s Law and the Computer

The South St. Vrain Canyon


The Hazards of Volunteering

Crime in Our Valley


On the Death of Charles Eagle Plume

Can We All Get Along?

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Lost Horizon [1993]


Rumors About a Visit by the Pope


More About Fences


The Visit of Pope John Paul II

Forest Fires

The New Sewage System

The Snow Pool

The Good Old Days [1994]

The WIND’s 20th Anniversary

The Bunce School

The Shooting Gallery

The Estes Park Museum

Our Government

U.S. West Takes a Hit

The Year of the Hummingbirds

A New “Yield” Sign

Growth in Allenspark

Private Telephones?

The Salvation Army

Creation Science [1995]

Devolutionizing Big Government



Fort D.A. Russell

Domestic Terrorism

Old and New

Barney Graves

Life in the Wilderness

What’s In a Name?

Arthur C. Clarke


The Estes Park Trail-Gazette Columns:

July 1983


Estes Cone

Johnny Grant

Observations in Estes Park

The Bath House


The Sutherland’s Ice House

How Old is Charles Eagle Plume?


Christmas Trees

Tree Murder

Mountain Driving


Mail Boxes

More About Mail Boxes

“Are you related to ....?”


An Accident

The Wild Cat

A July Reunion

A Visit to Baldpate Inn

Opening Cabins


The Times, They Have Changed

Death and Transfiguration

The Population Explosion

The March of Time

Faith-Based Social Services

Looking for Pitch

Recent Writings I

Recent Writings II

Recent Writings III

Recent Writings IV

Recent Writings V

Recent Writings VI



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