“Oh, hummingbird, mankind was waiting for you to come flying along…….Lift us up to the heaven of holiness, oh, source of our being, oh hummingbird.” Seals & Croft
Remember my post a few weeks ago about how I think in songs? Well, the title of this blog post is what I’m singing now, and it’s got a bluesy feel to it. I am sad to report that my resident hummingbird, Ruby, has headed south for the winter. She’d been my sweet little buddy for a few months, and I had grown quite attached to her. I was a bit melancholy when the day finally came that she didn’t show up at the feeder. (The photos are of my Ruby!) She stayed around a lot later than I had expected, but the time had obviously come for her to head south, to Central (or South) America.
Bird watching and bird feeders are a recently acquired pastime/hobby for me. However, I have always loved wild birds, and felt a tremendous thrill when spotting certain kinds of birds. Any kind of raptor gets my heart pounding, but seeing a bird for the first time is exciting, too. I remember having the joy of spotting a roadrunner for the first time when my husband and I visited Arizona many years ago. We were staying with DH’s Aunt Rita and Uncle Bob. Uncle Bob was an avid explorer himself, and he knew that I wanted to see a roadrunner. He took us for a drive in the desert, up in the hills. After riding in the back of his truck for a couple of hours, I still had not seen one, so Uncle Bob made Aunt Rita switch places with me, to increase my odds. Poor Aunt Rita – she was no spring chicken, but there she was, in the bed of that little truck, bouncing over the bumpy mountain roads with my hubby by her side (at least there was a cap on it!). Meanwhile, I was sitting in comfort in her usual spot in the front seat. It paid off, though. Within 20 minutes, I got my first look at a roadrunner. I was so excited – he was racing right alongside us as we drove down the road, and I stuck my head out of the window and yelled, “Beep! Beep!” And that wasn’t the last time I’ve “spoken” to a bird.
A couple of years ago, I fulfilled another of my dreams regarding the great winged creatures – for the very first (and, to date, only) time in my life, I saw an owl in the wild. It was a barred owl, and he was sleeping in a tree on the edge of one of our big parks nearby. We were driving down the road and I saw something up in a tree, and I asked my husband, “What was that?” (This is a man who notices all sorts of curiosities on the side of the road. I don’t even know how he stays in his lane most of the time, but he somehow manages to, for the most part, drive quite well, while still noticing birds, fruit trees, random signs, and other interesting sights alongside the road.) This time, he had managed to get a good enough look into that tree to say, “I think that was an owl.” “An, OWL?!”, I said. “Turn Around!!” He had to drive a ways down the road to find a turn around spot, but he did it. We drove past the tree, then turned around again, so that I would be right under the tree as we drove by once more. I made him slow way down, even though another car was right on our bumper. I rolled down the window, stuck my head way out, looked up into the tree, and, sure enough, there was a big ol’ barred owl, snoozing away. I yelled out, “Hi, Owl!” He lazily opened his eyes, looked directly at me, and then closed his eyes again. If I close my eyes right now, I can replay the “video” of that exact moment. It was AWESOME! I was on a bird-sighting high for several days after that one.
The other exciting bird sightings I have had involved bald eagles. I met that goal the first time while visiting Minnesota. I was driving in a residential part of town, saw a large bird flying overhead, pulled over and got out of my car, and there was my first wild eagle, soaring majestically above my head. That was pretty cool, but that sighting was way outdone on a kayaking trip last summer in south-eastern, Indiana. We had been out on the river for a couple of hours, and I had seen plenty of great blue herons, plus some kingfishers, and a TON of mud swallow nests underneath of a bridge. We were coming near to the end of our ride when suddenly, on a dead tree straight ahead, we saw a bald eagle perched on one of the branches. It was a splendid view, in every possible way. He sat there for quite some time, until our kayaks were right underneath him, and then he gracefully took wing and headed into the forest.
So, getting back to Ruby, my own little girl… I received a hummingbird feeder earlier this year as a gift from one of my daughters. I put that feeder out late in the spring for a few weeks and had no response whatsoever. I took it down and forgot about it for a month or so. When I remembered it again, I did some research about how to lure the hummingbirds to my feeders, and then hung some brightly colored ribbons in the spruce tree, where the feeder was nestled. It worked. Within 24 hours, my feeder was visited by a female ruby-throated hummingbird. We noticed many other hummingbirds trying to imbibe at our feeder, but Ruby chased each and every one of the intruders away. It was quite entertaining to watch. For a while, I just called her “my hummingbird,” but that had too many syllables for me, so I started calling her Ruby. Pretty soon, my daughter was in on it, too. She’d tell me, “I saw Ruby at the feeder today.” My husband reported sightings of Ruby in the back yard, buzzing right past his head while he was picking tomatoes from my garden. She had, in a way, become one of the family, and I am sad that the approaching winter has called her away. But, I am also anticipating, already, the coming spring, when I will once again lure some little rubies to our yard. I already have a plan for adding another feeder or two, so that we can accommodate their possessive nature with the feeders, while attracting more of these tiny wonders to our yard. What is it about these birds that fills me with so much awe, brightens my day, and lightens my heart? I think it’s just all part and parcel of God’s amazing creation, which should fill each of us with overwhelming wonder. Birds are just one of my personal triggers, when it comes to breaking through my distractions and helping me to see the magnificence and artistry and beauty of God’s handiwork. (My husband took the photo below, of me – with binoculars – in a bird viewing shelter at a local wildlife preserve.) Find your own source of natural joy this week, and breathe it in deeply, and know that the peace and happiness you feel in your heart come from God, and that you, my friend, are one of his finest creations! Here’s lookin’ at you, kid!