• 59°

Verner: A flight of fancy

By my reckoning, spring arrived on April 11, at approximately 8:30 a.m. Give or take a few cheeps.
That’s when I saw the first hummingbird of the season. The ruby throat was perched on a tiny bare branch of the big willow oak at the edge of the yard. Although I don’t claim avian clairvoyance, I knew what the bird was thinking:
“OK, doofus, I’m back. Put out the feeder. It was a long flight, and I’m famished.”
It was the first hummer I had seen since Sept. 29, the day I noted the final sighting of last fall. Last summer, we had two pair constantly at war over ownership of the two feeders hung in different sectors of our yard. If you think anti-annexation groups are fiercely protective of property rights, just dare to trespass on a hummer’s feeding ground. They don’t bother with lawsuits. It’s instant aerial warfare, no neighborhood petition drive required.
When they headed south for the winter, the world seemed a lesser place. While I missed seeing the tiny birds themselves, the greater void, I realized, came from the absence of their urgent motion. Darting, hovering, flying backward, those iridescent dynamos channeled the energy of the cosmos. Summer passed in a blur. Then came a still, frosty morning, and they were gone.
Until now.
So far, I’ve seen only one hummer, a male who’s predictably hogging the pantry. I’m sure his mate — or a likely significant other — will soon appear. They’ll resume the perennial dance of courtship, nest-building and defending the homefront. The air will vibrate with their being.
I’ll enjoy the show — and try to keep the feeders filled.
• • •
Chris Verner is opinion page editor of the Salisbury Post.

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