Hummers are gas-guzzlers to most Americans – but they are hummingbirds to some.
Hummingbirds seem exotic to the UK birder because we have nothing really like them – and because they really are exotic.
My first hummingbird ever was about 30 years ago when I was sitting on a log in Ontario, looking at a Beaver dam, and I heard a buzzing noise behind me. Now because I have mentioned hummingbird, you, dear reader, know already what it was but I had no idea as I turned my head what I was going to see – a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird feeding on a flower stalk about four feet away. That was quite an introduction, and it was only near Ithaca, on a dreary morning a few weeks ago that I renewed the acquaintance.
Here in the West there are more and different hummingbirds and two volunteers, Bob and Eva, in Bryce Canyon National Park yesterday tipped me off about a Mexican restaurant just down the road (25 miles) which did good food and had hummingbird feeders so that you could eat and see hummers all around.
Sounded good – too good to be true? I drove the miles to Hatch and the Adobe Cafe and the Large Green Salad I had was indeed excellent – but although the hummingbird feeders are usually out, today was too windy (it wasn’t very windy!) and they were missing. Oh well!
Bob had noticed my Cincinnati Zoo hat and as an Ohio man was singing the praises of Cleveland Zoo so I told him the story of the Martha and the Passenger Pigeon and that was all news to him.
Bryce Canyon was a great place scenically and produced Western Bluebird so that I now have the set – Eastern, Mountain and Western – and Pygmy Nuthatch, as well as a new Prairie Dog – the endangered Utah Prairie Dog. Yippee!
And there was a group of people eating at the Adobe who had seen a strange bird of prey and asked to see my bird book. Most strange birds of prey turn out to be Red-tailed Hawks in my recent experience although I’ve seen some lovely Swainson’s Hawks too, and quite a lot of Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles recently too.
But their strange raptor seems likely to have been an Osprey – seen lots of them but love them to bits. Our conversation moved on and the group, who all left on hired ATVs (along with White Water Rafting – big business in these parts) told me where to go to see Californian Condors. Not sure whether I want a Condor moment or not. At the moment I’d like a hummer moment. We’ll see.