We put out feeders and plant flowers for hummingbirds. They come.
Female Black-chinned hummingbird on Firebush (Hamelia patens).
Female Black-chinned rests between sips.
This year the hottest summer in Texas history stressed every living thing.
Throughout the Hill Country, the only reliable flowers were those in home gardens where water still flowed.
Honeybees, deprived of nectar, and desperate for energy and moisture to cool their hives, thronged our hummingbird feeders and found small sips around the edges of the yellow bee guards.
The hummingbirds adapted, thrusting beaks between bees and guards to feed.
Until waves of migrating orioles dropped in hungry. After they'd eaten the ripe beauty berries behind our house, they pulled bee guards off feeders to sip sugar-water.
Young Baltimore Oriole male. See the bees on the guardless port to the left? And those waiting for him to leave.
The hummingbirds, wary of big pointed beaks, worked harder now for a drink, circling feeders, dodging bees, squeaking for a turn at the energy to power their hundreds-of-miles-flight yet to come.
But guardless ports spilled pools of nectar and swarms of bees piled the feeders, some ascending through ports into the syrup, forcing me into rescue duty for drunken swimmers, followed by search-duty for bee guards tossed from impatient beaks.
In late afternoon, Summer Tanagers took possession atop the feeders for easy snatches of errant bees, a tanager's favorite food.
The orioles AND the hummingbirds waited for turns at the feeders.
Soon, the birds will continue south. This notch on the cycle will move out of sight, the passing of time more a passage of being.
Copyright 2009-2011 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.