Izzie 8: Mis-Match

Over the years we had a couple of hummingbird feeders but hadn’t had much luck at attracting the birds. One of the many nice things about retirement is that you have time to try things for a second time if you had no success with them earlier. We had seen some hummingbirds checking out the flowers and bushes in our back yard. Pat was intrigued by them and decided to a buy a feeder and try it again. She went to Home Depot and looked at the units they had on display and asked questions of a lady working there. She received what we both thought was good and thoughtful advice. This lady suggested that Pat buy a feeder with a rim or perch around it so the hummingbirds could light and rest as they got their nectar. “After all”, she said, “the little birds get hot and tired, too”.

Pat bought a feeder and mixed up her first batch of nectar. Meanwhile, I found a couple of interesting web sites on the Internet and learned a few things about caring for the feeders, attracting birds, and other useful items. Pat hung up the feeder and we were in business.

The first three or four days were kind of slow. I guess it took the birds a little time to spot the feeder and spread the word. We had been sitting out on the patio a couple hours a day with our cat, Isabella, to keep her company. Izzie is an indoor cat and has never been outside on her own. To give her some outside time, which she really loves, we put a harness and leash on her and stay with her. We used to stake her out for 30 minutes to an hour at a time and check on her every 10 or 15 minutes to make sure she was okay and hadn’t tangled herself up. However, one day, Pat stepped out on the patio just as a big hawk came swooping over the fence to grab Izzie. If Pat hadn’t screamed and waved her arms we would be without a cat, now.

The feeder was attracting more visits each day. We found out quickly just how territorial and ornery these little birds are. If two of them show up at the same time, there is no sharing. Each tries to intimidate the other with aggressive moves and bluffing.

One morning Pat was working in the kitchen and heard a commotion at the patio door. Her view of the door was partially blocked by the cabinet so she moved over a little to see what was going on. There was Izzie standing on her hind legs and stretched out to full height with her front paws resting on the screen. On the other side of the screen and hovering nose-to-nose with Izzie was this cocky little humming bird. The point of this encounter seemed to be that the humming bird wanted to tease the cat. The little bird-brain had no idea that this cat dreamed of stalking birds and lizards and had actually backed down two dogs at once that thought they could invade her space. The bird was no piker either, showing no fear at all. He would buzz right up to Izzie’s nose and she would take a swing at him, striking the screen. I don’t know if the air currents generated by Izzie’s swing were pushing the bird back or if the bird’s extraordinary reflexes made it seem that way, but they seemed to be involved in a weird little boxing match. There was a lot of bobbing and weaving going on, with Izzie occasionally throwing an overhand right and the bird slipping it to perfection. They kept this going for a couple of minutes. It was a strange little dance performed by two strange little pugilists. When they got bored, they quit and went away. No harm, no foul, and nobody hurt!

Dave Thomas
September 16, 2014


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