This video showed up in my email this morning. Not everyone in the SGV, include me among them, think that bears in our yards are a bad thing. This homeowner had them in their Koi pond and enjoyed it tremendously. They have the right idea, give them distance to stay safe and enjoy the visit the best you can. Not all bear visits are bad news.
As far as the roughed-up hummingbird on my kitchen floor before the paws of our cat Jiggy was concerned, I couldn’t have picked a better time to come get a drink. No doubt had a few more Tuesday afternoon minutes (or even moments) passed alone with the looming feline they would have been its last, but instead of grabbing a Coke Zero I put my thirst on hold and got a hold of the tiny creature.
Was it a chick fresh out of the nest that hadn’t yet found flight? Or was it an adult that Jig — a masterful hunter, with a five-foot vertical leap — had managed to snatch, perhaps straight out of the air? But none of the that mattered so much as it looked OK. Seriously ruffled, yes, but uninjured — at least externally. And seemingly fully relaxed in the palm of my hand, in no hurry to leave.
I have to tell you, there is nothing quite as contradictory as holding what looks to be an exhausted hummingbird looking ready either to die or take a nap, yet feeling its heart beating against the palm of your hand. “Beating” doesn’t do the sensation justice, because even at rest (or perhaps in this case: in relief) this bird’s heartrate doesn’t go lower than 250 beats a minute; maximum somewhere around 1,200 per. This one’s was somewhere between that. It was like the world’s smallest drummer was playing his fastest snare drum roll against the base of my index finger.
After a few minutes of us hanging out like that, we paid a visit to the backyard, where I hoped I might find its frantic momma out there clicking and peeping. There were hummingbirds out there but none showed an interest in this one as their chick, leaving me understanding that I faced the daunting task of caring for this one, or finding an organization better equipped and informed and willing to do so.
Then at that instant, almost as if we were on the same wavelength, the little bird perked up, shook itself fully alert and lifted off from my hand flying strongly up over the blooming bouganvillea, around the nearest palm tree trunk, and beyond it over the giant bird of paradises, lifting my sagging spirits up with it out of sight.
From inside while trying to man-up against the brisk temps and go for my ritual Thanksgiving Day morning bike ride, from somewhere outside and above me came the telltale shrill call that told me all I needed to know: a northern flicker was here.
Being the type that gets excited by stuff like this, I rushed out the front door with cam in one hand and binoculars in the other to find this beauty of a female in the neighbor’s camphor laurel, feasting on the tree’s berries. Pushing the cam’s lens against one of the ‘nocular’s eyepieces while sighting through the other I caught the bird in a moment of repose (click to enlargify):
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
I’ve previously posted up a couple updates (here and here) in regards to the earlier discovery/progress of the two Anna’s hummingbird chicks nested in the laurel tree overhanging our Silver Lake frontyard, but there’s been a whole bunch of some serious pint-sized tragedy and triumph these last few days and it’s been enough to stress out this surrogate hummingbird uncle/bodyguard.
First there was the way-too-early exit of one of the chicks from the nest Sunday, followed by the baby’s recovery (whew!) and immediate installation into what I can immodestly describe as a Righteously Genius Purchase s of a high fruit-picking contraption (pictured above) bought the day before in case it might serve as a substitute nest. Which it now did.
But the next day was a double negative whammalama. Not only did the chick launch from the picker sometime in the night to god knew where, but we also discovered that its sibling, still in the nest, had died. Dejected at being unsuccessful in locating the wayward chick I’d resigned myself to its loss only to have my grief compounded when one of our cats brought in what I figured was its corpse (that I solemnly buried) — until I went down to get the mail much later that Tuesday afternoon and what was just sitting there in front of the mailbox, but holyfuckingshit: the entirely not-dead chick looking at me like “where have you been!?”
So back into the picker it went where mom paid it many visits and gave it many feedings and there it hung out all night Tuesday and all of Wednesday working its wing strength up, and here we are Thursday morning and literally but a few minutes after snapping the pic above, the chick has successfully fledged, having lifted off and flown to a high branch in the tree of its birth where it now sits safely while plotting its next hopefully successful and safe flights.
I couldn’t be more proud, happy or relieved. But just the same, the cats are staying indoors today.
After reading Zach Behrens’ post on LAist last week about the man seen fishing in the L.A. River, I began to consider how little I know about the often hidden natural habitat of our city. Living in such urban surroundings, dwarfed by skyscrapers and barricaded by strip malls, it’s easy to forget that the City of Los Angeles is also a thriving and abundant ecosystem with actual wildlife and everything.
In an effort to learn more, I decided to check out the following books, “The Los Angeles River: Its Life, Death, and Possible Re-birth” by Blake Gumprecht and “Down by the Los Angeles River: Friends of the Los Angeles River’s Official Guide” by Joe Linton. Both are available on Amazon, but I’m first going to see if our brand new Silver Lake Library has them.
I’m certain that there are also many blogs dedicated to this subject, so if you have a particular one that you recommend, please leave a comment here and let me know. I’d love to check it out.