But, whatever. Everyone who is passionate about their hobby gets annoyed when they get disturbed or interrupted. I know it bugs me a little when I'm out running and someone thinks it would be entertaining to honk, throw things or yell suggestive comments at me. But maybe being rude to runners is their hobby, so who am I to judge?
So, I'm not a birder, but I do notice things occasionally. For example, about a week ago, I noticed the little hummingbird feeder I bought at the dollar store earlier this summer was empty, again. Hungry little critters. I also noticed store-bought nectar was kind of expensive considering it's really just sugar water. So I decided to see what would happen if I just mixed up something homemade-ish. It was a sophisticated recipe consisting of granulated sugar and, get this, tap water. For fun, I added a couple drops of yellow food coloring, instead of the traditional red. Because I'm an unconventional risk-taker at heart.
So...the harmless, sweet, colorful, teensy weensy hummingbird. Native to, I don't know, places with trees and flowers? Beneficial because they help pollenate trees and flowers and maybe they eat some bugs? Do they eat bugs? No matter. They're cute and harmless, that's the important part.
Here's some pictures of beautiful hummingbirds in Arkansas, that I swiped off the internet:
I've been watching the hummingbirds buzzing around my feeder the last few days, and I must confess, I'm beginning to feel a bit leery of these "cute" little creatures. They seem to be developing a bit of a Lord of the Flies mentality. Especially this little guy:
This really is two pictures of the same bird. Took me about 200 tries to get these shots. I'm not a very good photographer and my Nikkon CoolPix camera certainly doesn't have a long-throw lens.
You have no idea how freaked out I am right now. I took these pictures 3 days ago, and just now I looked up to check and he is sitting on that branch right now, at this very moment, watching me...Okay, here's how it started:
Usually, when I stumble out onto my deck with a cup of coffee, sometime between 5:30 and 6:00 in the morning, I will watch as 1, or sometimes 2, birds buzz up to my feeder, take a few sips and zoom off to who knows where. I've tried to see where they fly off to, but they're so small and fast, I lose track of them. But this guy, I call him Kim Jong Il, or Kimmy for "short", took his sips of my homebrew nectar, and decided to stay.
(I backed my camera out, so I know you can't see him, but he's perched on a branch of that bent tree. He was cute and fat and when he stretched his neck up, you could see a beautiful red band around his throat.)
At first, I thought it was pretty cool that Little Kimmy was sticking around so close. Maybe he was tame. Maybe, if I sang a little song, he would perch on my finger and my kids would think I am Snow White or Cinderella, and stop asking me to take them to Disney World. Oh, look! Another hummingbird, a beautiful green one, just came up to the feeder and Kimmy is playing with him. Look how they are chasing each other. How sweet! And now there are two hummingbirds and Kimmy is playing? with both of them. See how they are spinning around in the air and, oh, trying to knock each other out of the sky?
This behavior has gone on for days now, and I feel like it's becoming increasingly violent. Yesterday, as I was looking at the bird perched near the feeder, I thought I saw blood on his sharp, needle-like beak, but I'm sure it was just a reflection of red from the feathers ringing his beautiful throat. Nevertheless, Kimmy Dictator of the Homebrew Nectar Feeder, seems like an appropriate name.
And I start to wonder why he is defending this feeder so stubbornly. He will never be able to drink all that sugar water himself before it starts to turn rancid. Why won't he share with the other birds? Why, upon discovering this gold mine, didn't he fly out and tell all his friends, "Come look what I found! There's enough for all of us!"
It's silly and naive of me to think that selfish behavior is limited only to my own species. That taking more than a fair share, staking a claim on something you didn't put there, didn't fill with sweet nourishment, based on "I saw it first", is a solely human act.
Silly. Naive. Because we see this "it's all about me" behavior in nature every time we turn on the National Geographic channel. The writers of Finding Nemo depicted it brilliantly through the seagulls that said, "Mine. Mine." I saw it last night when I set out a bowl of leftover sour cream for the cats and the big one licked the bowl clean while the smaller ones sat around and watched.
I guess it's just a little more shocking when I observe viciously selfish behavior in small, beautiful creatures like hummingbirds. Maybe it's just "survival of the fittest" at work in Kimmy's defensive instincts. Or maybe it's the dye in the yellow food coloring.
I should probably cut out all yellow foods from my kids' diet, too, because I see this selfish, sometimes violent, behavior in them as well. Yep, it must be yellow food coloring.
I'm going to start a petition. Who's in?