Friday, May 30, 2014

A Hummingbird Foot, a Photograph Missed, a Mysterious Night Visitor, and Collusion Between Species

Though there is obviously something going on between the bee and the hummingbird, the star of this photograph for me, is the hummingbird's foot.


When is the last time you had a good look at a hummingbird foot? 

 Never, right?

When is  the last time you saw a hummingbird walk?  

Never again?  Yes?

That's because they don't walk.  According to report they can grip a perch and kind of hop sideways on a perch and that is about it.

Had you noticed?   


The prevailing thought as to why hummingbirds don't walk much is that they've traded really workable feet and legs for less weight and therefore better flight specs.

The above photograph has sat in my photo program tray for days.  I knew I was fascinated by that foot but it took time for the why of the fascination to reveal itself.

Yesterday I attempted to write a blog about the missed photographs, or inexplicable moments or mysterious whatevers  which tended to keep me from writing about a particular topic or animal behavior moment because I didn't have a photograph of the behavior to document it, or I had a photograph but didn't have the capper picture to explain what had gone on before.

I'd begun to find it a trap or at least limiting.  Besides many readers have their own experiences which might help illuminate mine.  

We are in this together after all.

Some weeks ago, I'd gone outside, turned in front of the garage and there was a female Robin at the bird bath.  She had a dense patch of mud on her breast about the size of a large chicken egg and was busily wetting a piece of grass.  But the most riveting part of this activity was that she looked happy and excited while she busied herself with the water and the grass. She cocked her head while she worked, her eyes glittered, she was building a nest and looked like she just might bust out in a laugh any second.

Okay, I know.  How does a Robin look happy and excited?  

That was the kicker that stopped me from publishing the observation.

I'd run for my camera but when I got back she was gone.  I watched for her as I went about my business all day.  Somehow I kept missing her because just as dusk was coming on I saw the below object where it had never been before.

 She'd been in the throes of nest building.   And the urge to do the activities it took to make a nest made her look...well the only word I had was happy.

I can trust you to visualize that right?

I'd been working in the yard when I suddenly realized that part of the flower bed had been completely squashed as if something had lain there for sometime.

It struck me that the particular spot being depressed to some extent with slightly higher foliage in front, and other foliage from a very large lilac on one side in particular that would block the street light, made it a good stealth hunting or hiding spot.  
The length was about two and a half feet. The depth slightly shorter.

A little later in the day a neighbor stopped by to talk to me in the back yard and she found a rabbit's foot by the fence.  Just the foot.  No blood or guts.  No entrails as one sees with a kill of a Great Horned Owl ordinarily.

Therefore a mammal larger than a house cat, if indeed the flower bed was used for hunting purposes, as I suspected.  A Bobcat perhaps?  A fox?

No tracks. 

I didn't put the two together right away.  In fact I may have found the depressed spot after the rabbits foot.  Not only do I not have a picture of whatever was there, I didn't even think to take a picture of the rabbit's foot before the woman pitched it away.

Therefore though  a mystery, somehow I didn't feel I had enough evidence even to talk about it.

Geez, words should do in a mystery if that is all you have.  But as some unkind bloggists have taken umbrage  with the tiniest detail of an unphotographed moment one can become over wary.  After all most of us do this for love and curiosity not for profit, fame, or a dissertation. 

Jealousy and pettiness can take ever so much joy out of things.

Best to ignore it, and ENJOY!

Then of course there are the moments when you know SOMETHING is going on between two animals but they don't let you know what it is.

An example...

Silver can make some very intense expressions while bathing.  But in this case, he's rather hot under the collar and I'm betting Squirrel did something he shouldn't have in Quicksilver's opinion.

I'll never know because a split second after the shutter clicked they both looked back at me with their innocent  "What?' faces on.

So get out there and keep your eyes open. 

And remember, you don't need a photograph to talk about it.

Happy Hawking...and other things as well.
Donegal Browne


Sally said...

I so enjoy all of your stories, pictures or not! though the pictures are a nice addition :)

Donegal Browne said...

Thank you Sally. I guess part of what I was getting at, is that sometimes we limit ourselves without even knowing we are doing it and we should all be aware and stifle that impulse, right?