Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ever watch a hummingbird sleep? A self portrait in a hummingbird's eye!!!

I just shared this post with my birding friends on an e-mail server. I want to share it on my blog! Posting follows:

I had just an enchanted experience today I want to share. (This one’s especially for Allen Chartier – an especially fine birding mentor and hummingbird specialist!!!).

These are pics from our place. I shot a few pics through the sliding door (as usual) of a hummingbird at my feeder, and then wondered if I could go out and shoot some closer. The cutie just hung around!!! It moved off the feeder and sat on a branch in the immediate garden by the deck for awhile while I walked off the deck and took a few pics, then went back to the feeder where it stayed for a very long time! At one point I was able to get within 4 feet of her! I shot over 200 pics overall. (Hey! Shoot lots – some might turn out!).

When I was processing my pics, I was overjoyed to see I had gotten a pic of the eyelid covering the eye! (Q: How fast can a hummingbird blink??? Whew, I thought!). OK, I never even realized hummingbirds had eyelids! As I looked at more pics, I found I had about a dozen showing the eyelid closed or mostly closed, and many more with the eye “squinting”. I just now came up with the hypothesis that I was fortunate enough to watch a hummingbird sleep!!!

I offer this as a possible explanation of why I was able to be so close for so long. Maybe birdie sleeping is an “off and on” thing where they catch a “cat nap” (birdie nap) for a few fractional seconds, but remain entirely cognizant of their surroundings at all times. (Yes, it’s another “Dr. Bob question”!)

Whatever the case, this is a day I will remember forever! Maybe it was because I was wearing my totally red t-shirt (hummingbirds like red!)? And, maybe “it was just my time” to really experience something truly wondrous (“Thanks be…!”).

I am saying “she” because of the white tips on the tail feathers, but looking at Sibley’s book, I think it might be a “sub-adult male” due to the speckled throat markings.

During the hour or so I was watching the feeder activity from inside, periodically another hummer (in one case two at the same time) would fly by and the bird on the feeder would fly off with the other bird. Shortly a bird (same bird?) returned to the feeder. It is hard to say who followed whom – fast little things! I wonder now if a parent was just “checking up on” the kid.

Just to put the finishing touch on a totally wonderful experience, immediately as I noticed the bird had left the feeder, I felt a “rustling” in my hair, and reached up to brush it away. I looked back to the feeder, and the bird was gone. I realized I had been visited by the very bird I had been observing up close and personal for more than 15 minutes! I will always wonder about her sentiment - brief as it was …

Oh, such great joy and wonder!!! Something to share!

Pics are on my PBase site: (I think you might have to copy and paste this URL into your web browser...)

P.S., I was processing one more pic before I posted them. Geez! It just became even more wonderful (I think…)! Now, follow along with me (OK, so I am “going weird” here… but I think it might be true – I ask photographers to please comment…). In the 9552 pic on PBase (please refer to all 3 pics of this number series here!), I enlarged it to show the wonderful eye of the hummingbird. Then I wondered about the color and enlarged it once again. Given the rounded nature of the eyeball, I believe the lower red part is a reflection from the feeder below. And, the upper white part is the reflection of the sky above. Given that this is true, and that I was standing about 4 feet away on that side and a bit higher, then the black spot in the middle of the white area must be me! Is this really right? Did I really shoot a self-portrait in the eye of a hummingbird??? (!!!)

OK, so now that I have lost most of you, I just hope you will enjoy the pics!!! Whew! What an encounter!

I wish you all can have the joy that birding has given me! Each encounter is a true treasure!

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