David E. Steiner

Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon

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The Year of the Hummingbirds

 

This has been the Year of the Hummingbirds at our house. At the moment I am going through about a gallon of hummingbird food every day.

Several people have commented on the large numbers this season. When I first hung up a 32 ounce feeder on May 8, I had just a few birds, but by late June there had been a population eruption which some have credited to young birds coming our the nests. If so, it’s been a very fecund year for the Selasphorus Platycercus, or Broadtails, as well as for the dreaded Selasphorus Rufus. My guess, (and it is just a guess, since counting hummingbirds is a hopeless enterprise) is that I have about 35 birds at the moment. When the hummingbird factory exploded I had to hang up a second 32 ounce feeder, and finally a third. All are filled twice a day. In all the years we’ve been feeding them, we’ve never seen anything quite like it.

My problem is that I’ve now become a captive of my birds. I have this sense of obligation. When I went to a Rockies game I filled all three feeders, but when I returned late at night, all were dry, and I worried about the health and well being of a bunch of birds.

I have always wondered where the bird live. We are told they nest near water, and Roaring Fork is just a couple of hundred yards from our house, so we have always assumed that is where they nest. They arrive every morning before sunrise and depart about an hour after the sun goes down, pretty much as a group. In the evening they are all there one minute and the next there are just a couple of stragglers who quickly fly off to their nests.

The large numbers have affected the behavior of the beautiful, bronze and brazen Rufus. As you know, a Rufus is here for just a few weeks in July and August, but will always try to dominate a feeder and keep all other hummingbirds from feeding. The Broadtails are so numerous this year that a Rufus must wait his turn with all the others; any attempt to take over a feeder is met with an overwhelming attack by a blizzard of Broadtails. It’s strange to see a Rufus placidly feeding in a circle with five Broadtails. It’s an interesting illustration of behavior modified by necessity.

Changing a feeder has become an adventure. When I hang up a newly filled feeder it often has two or three birds on it by the time I find the hook. Standing next to a feeder offers an up-close peek at the marvelous workings of their long, black tongues as they flick in and out of their bills.

Watching them feed, it looks as though they’re storing up for a long flight and in a way they are, as the young birds grow day by day into adults and they store the energy they’ll need for the long migration to Mexico. I wonder where they will go, what they will see and how they will spend the winter. Will they find another sucker willing to provide fourteen pounds of sugar every week for the privilege of having them around? I hope so. But enough daydreaming. I see one of my feeders is empty…

 

 

Columns

© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner

Allenspark Wind Columns:

Introduction

Why Allenspark?

Going Riding [August, 1985]

Electricity

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]

Hiking

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

Elevators

The Estes Park Hardware Store [1988]

Visitors

Limousine Service

A Memorial Service

A Hummingbird

Garbage

A Hiking Trip

The Estes Park Public Library

Wild Life

Riparian Rights [1989]

Weather

Fences

Commuting

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

June

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

Visitors

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

“Whiteout”

The Hazards of Volunteering

Crime in Our Valley

Infestations

On the Death of Charles Eagle Plume

Can We All Get Along?

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Lost Horizon [1993]

Walking

Rumors About a Visit by the Pope

Progress?

More About Fences

Woodpeckers

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

Risks

Airports

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

Carpentry

Estes Cone

Johnny Grant

Observations in Estes Park

The Bath House

Waving

The Sutherland’s Ice House

How Old is Charles Eagle Plume?

Dogs

Christmas Trees

Tree Murder

Mountain Driving

Garbage

Mail Boxes

More About Mail Boxes

“Are you related to ....?”

Spring

An Accident

The Wild Cat

A July Reunion

A Visit to Baldpate Inn

Opening Cabins

Summer

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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