Monday, April 25, 2011

Instinct and Survival

Every day is different in the Hill Country.  

I think I know the patterns and seasons for our land...but this year is never last year.

Black-chinned hummingbirds breed in the Texas Hill Country.  The first one returns to our place in mid-March.  He probably spent his winter in south Texas.

Black-chinned immature male on Texas Betony.  Note longer beak in proportion to head, one of the identifying characteristics. ------>

Ruby-throated hummingbirds, on the other hand, commute from Mexico and stop only to refresh.  They wash up in my waterfall and nectar at my Texas Betony and feeders before resuming spring flight to northern breeding grounds.
This year one male ruby-throated is taking an extended vacation here.  I know because he's taken to sitting atop the feeder, and no one else does that.

I'm wondering how he knows it's been a late and cold spring up north, which means fewer gnats and flowers now.  Or whether he's heard about the Texas wildfires, including today's four major fires covering more than half a million acres.  More acreage has been scorched this year in Texas than exists in the entire land mass of Rhode Island.

It's a mystery, the instinct of penny-weight birds.  And survival, for all of us.
Copyright 2009-2011 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


  1. When sitting on the porch and watching hummingbirds, 5 minutes seems like an hour...

  2. That road in the first photo deserves a bike on it.


    P.S. I'm glad you're not near the fires.

  3. I'm having a lot of Ruby-throat traffic and lingerers in my garden this spring, too. I was delighted to watch one of the males early this morning as he flew back and forth through the spray from my small backyard fountain! These little guys do enjoy the water. Entertaining little buggers!

  4. I love these posts you do about the little bitty birdies that come to play at your house!

  5. That road looks so inviting Kathleen... I hope you are safe from the wildfires, the force behind them is so frightening and so destructive.
    It is lovely that you grow so many flowers to feed the hummingbirds when they stop by to 'refuel'and a waterfall to refresh them.
    I love watching the birds flit around my garden and the small creatures who visit, I feel blessed by their presence.
    xoxoxo ♡

  6. Remarkable photos -- I can almost hear the whirr of those tiny wings!

    And thank you for the recipes! I haven't had a chance to try them yet, but I will let you know when I do --

  7. I have been thinking of you and Denny when I hear about the fires on the news.

  8. Your language here, "the instinct of penny-weight birds" is marvelous.

  9. Again I say it again...only you can make Texas sound appealing to me!


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