WHAT A B-I-I-I-G HUMMINGBIRD
by Margaret Jones
Last winter a neighbor of several blocks away
called to ask Paul and me to come identify a bird
which was coming to her hummingbird feeder. Paul
couldn't go at that time, but, guessing it would be
an oriole, I hastened to her house. I waited less
than forty minutes, and when the bird appeared, I
was delighted to see a first-year male Bullock's
Oriole. Bullock's Orioles don't come my way very
often; usually it is Baltimores and Orchards that we
see in the mulberry tree in the yard in back of us.
We had seen orioles at Santa Ana Refuge feeding
from hummingbird feeders a number of years ago.
We had two hummingbird feeders up this
summer because we so enjoyed the feisty antics of
quite a few Ruby-throats. In fact we put the
second one up to try to cut down on the chases,
but found it just ran the dominant hummer a little
more ragged! We usually put up feeders to try to
entice the wintering hummers but rarely get anything other than Rufous. The wonderful exception
to that was the Broad-tailed Hummingbird that spent
a month and a half in our back yard (see The Spoonbill, May , 1976), and is represented on our current
checklist by two connected dots; at that time it
was supposed to be the first record of a live Broad-
tailed on the Upper Texas Coast.
A week before Christmas I was shocked to see
a full adult male Bullock's Oriole clutching the little
glass tube of one of our feeders and twisting itself
around to drink the juice. He is beautiful, a real
textbook bird, and when the female, also a textbook
bird, appeared a few days later, my joy was complete. I have such fun watching them and their
contortions I have a hard time getting some necessary letter writing done. They come at various
times all during the day, though more often during
the morning. The male will perch on top of the red
tulip on the larger feeder and bend down to drink,
while the female sits on the perch in front of the
tulip and bends double to get her beak in position.
They could drink through the bee guards, but when
I removed one they soon concentrated on that opening. They seem to have no trouble drinking through
the bee guard on the smaller feeder.
The male sometimes doesn't seem to want the
female to eat at the first table, and drives her
away from both feeders for just a short while, and
then allows her to feed at whichever one he doesn't
fancy at the moment. Sometimes they sit on the
fence a few inches apart, and what a picture that
makes! Recently they had been coming about every 15 minutes, and I called John Barnes to come
video-tape them. Wouldn't you know they didn't
appear for more than two hours, and only came back
an hour after John had left? And so goes the world
of the bird photographer.
I haven't had any hummers yet this winter, but
for sheer enjoyment these Bullock's Orioles will be
hard to beat. And come to think about it, do you
think they will consider the hummers intruders and
drive them away?
Readers of Birdwatcher's Digest have surely
noticed that the article, "A Cautionary Tale," in the
January-February issue, was written by Sherry L.
Collins of Lake Jackson. (Sherry and Tom Collins
are very kind about letting OG members see their
hummingbirds each year.) The article describes
some hairy situations Sherry has faced when birding,
such as going out on the Freeport jetty during a
gale, and warns against a too-avid pursuit of birds,
regardless of danger. Congratulations, Sherry, on
your fine article!
THE SPOONBILL STAFF
Clearing House Editors:
Lynne Aldrich and Peter
and Andrew Franks, and
Ted Eubanks, Jr.
Pettingell and Jim Morgan
ORNITHOLOGY GROUP (Outdoor Nature Club)
c/o Peggy Milstead
Houston, Texas 77096
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