Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Changing of the Guard

Sunday morning marked the last moments I spent in the yard with Righty, the rambunctious hatch year male ruby-throated hummingbird that had been present since September 10th.

Morning in the backyard started off with three hummingbirds present, presumably the same three I had been seeing the past week. Among them was female "V" who survived her beatings by Righty. The day following his brutal attack, she was demonstrating agile flight maneuvering, successfully thwarting further aggression.

"V" the HY female being terrorized by Righty
Later that day, likely mid-morning, Righty and "V" departed my yard. This daytime exodus is consistent with hummingbirds being diurnal migrants. Not to worry though! The day brought replacements! In fact the early evening yielded my all-time highest total of ruby-throated hummingbirds, a whopping six!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, hatch year male
It is difficult to say if all those were new birds. I didn't seem to recognize the habits of any of the birds present. They were assuming different perches. No single bird seemed to dominate. The scene struck me as a different dynamic than the early morning.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, hatch year female

Monday marked the beginning of my weekend. I slept in until 8 o'clock. Upon waking I was eager to see what birds were around the yard after such an impressive showing the night before. I quickly assumed my perch outside with coffee and camera in hand, and waited...and waited. The yard was quiet.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, hatch year female
Finally after about 25 minutes a hatch year female quietly arrived to feed. No contact calls. No charging by another hummingbird. My heart sank as I felt Fall upon me, the season of goodbyes. Soon my yard will hold little entertainment...Then what? Venture away from home? ...an endeavor surely laden with risk. Where will I find inspiration without baggage when winter is upon me?

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, hatch year female
But wait! Another bird! Another hummingbird! At least for the time being I had the entertainment of watching two hummingbirds for the next two hours...

And the red-eyed vireo who was still hanging out feeding on the dogwood berries as it has for weeks...

Red-eyed Vireo enjoying its favorite treats
And some new visitors not seen in the yard before in the form of dragonflies and butterflies...

Black Saddlebags
Common Green Darner
Incoming! A third hummingbird! A hatch year male. With three in the yard that made for an easier time capturing birds nectaring at flowers. Usually while two are feuding, a third bird seizes the moment to feed uninterrupted. So all seems well for now and I am content with new batch of birds to entertain my morning and evenings for at least the next week or so.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, hatch year male
And whaddaya know, I did find the will to venture out a short distance...only to have the gorgeous sunny day devoured by a severe thunderstorm. I couldn't help but feel like Charlie Brown. The storm cloud had found me, menacing, hijacking my afternoon plans.

Silverwood County Park, far SE Dane County, WI


Seagull Steve said...

Very crushy. I've had some amazingly birdy yards in the past for field jobs, but it's been an exceedingly long time since I've been blessed with one of those at a "regular" house. I would kill to have a berry-eating vireo lurking around all the time...

one of many said...

Thanks Steve! Amazingly this is a small < .25 acre urbanish yard in S. WI. Years of no chemicals and replacing lawn with fruiting shrubs and small trees has paid off as stop over habitat for migrants and dispersing juveniles.