Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Birdfeeder

I picked up a hummingbird feeder recently thinking Zoe might enjoy watching the tiny birds float in the air. I hung it by our back door and filled it with sugar water. Rather than bringing up the ladder I used Zoe's plastic slide, which wasn't quite high enough. Although I was balanced precariously on the slide, which flexed ominously, while sugar water poured out of the feeder down on me, I didn’t fall, and there was still some feed in the feeder. Now all we had to do was wait for the birds.

Success! Hummingbirds started showing up. “Zoe, look! A hummingbird!” “What’s that?” “It’s a hummingbird.” “Why?” “Why what?” “Read me a book, Daddy.” Zoe was unimpressed. I tried explaining that hummingbirds can flap their wings as fast as 90 times per second. Still she was unimpressed. No matter, Alison and I and the cats enjoy watching the birds. However, suddenly the cats seem to be showing up with more hummingbirds than usual, and having floor-to-ceiling windows seem to confuse to tiny birds, since they seem to be bouncing off them at an alarming rate.

Flying into a window is usually lethal to a bird, but sometimes it just knocks them silly.
It is my job to protect them from our cats until they have recovered enough to fly. Yesterday, after a hummingbird flew into a window (and failed to die), I picked him (her?) up just as both cats made their appearance in the yard. The bird had recovered enough to perch on my finger, and seemed to tighten its grip when the cats started meowing. What to do? I had a bird in hand, in shock and possibly injured, and two cats licking their chops in anticipation. I could try throwing it as hard as I could and hope it recovered before the cats found where it landed (assuming throwing a tiny, delicate bird isn’t lethal). Finally I got tired of standing in the back yard holding the bird, so I placed him on top of the shed and hoped for the best. Harry, our cat, circled around to the back of the shed, and a moment later I saw him appear behind the bird. Harry pounced just as the bird took flight, and poor Harry stood there and watched as he flew away.