Nancy L. Newfield has been watching
hummingbirds at her Louisiana home and lots of other places since 1975. Nancy lost
her amateur status years ago, and now writes and lectures on hummers. She is co-author
of Hummingbird Gardens, reviewed elsewhere on
this site. Nancy is also a licensed hummingbird bander and a recognized authority
on hummingbird distribution, behavior, and taxonomy.
Air-Conditioning Feels Good
After yesterday's gentle waft of cool air, I was more than eager to open up the
house again this morning. It was another glorious day of blue skies and fair temperatures.
About 10:00, I walked into the office to begin writing on a very long overdue article.
A female Ruby-throat was perched on the feeder about 2 feet from the open window.
Hummers usually zip off when there is movement in the room, but this one remained
perched. She eyed me suspiciously then flew in to investigate the image of a Magnificent
Hummingbird on my T-shirt.
I froze so she wouldn't panic. Calmly, the little bird flew around the room minutely
inspecting the pictures, books, and other assorted clutter. There is a lot of clutter
in the office. Then, she just flew up to the ceiling!
Mentally, I flipped through my options. Skip had just left for work and would not
be home until late afternoon. He was working about 50 miles away and I had no way
to contact him. No help there.
Now, the office ceiling is 12 feet high. And, I'm just a little over 5'1". There
wasn't much hope of catching this gal with a butterfly net.
I decided to place a feeder directly in the window, knowing full well that I chanced
enticing yet another bird inside. She didn't seem stressed or panicky, but she stayed
Pretty soon, there were 2 little Ruby-throats up near the ceiling. They fought with
each other and chased. Every once in a while, one or both birds lit upon one of the
<i>National Geographics</i> stacked on the top shelf. After a little
rest, the two birds went back to fighting.
As I sat at the computer, trying to write, I could hear the steady hum of trochilid
wings overhead. Upping the ante, I placed a red bandanna on the sill, weighted down
by two ERA detergent jugs - lots of red to get their attention.
About noon, I went into the kitchen for lunch and when I returned, only one hummer
was buzzing up near the ceiling. The other bird was perched on the feeder outside
the window. Before long, the second hummer cautiously approached the feeder from
inside the office. But before I could do anything, the perched hummer chased the
other one back into the house and then I had two hummers flying around the ceiling
Writing wasn't coming along all that well. Mostly, the birds were quiet, but every
so often, one of them emitted a high, thin, gut-piercing distress call. What could
A clattering sound from the kitchen drew my attention. It was a big green dragonfly
that had also become trapped. Whew!!! At least it wasn't another hummer.
I looked out the open office window to the trap about 6 feet away. Another Ruby-throat
was calmly perched on a feeder inside the cage. She flew over to the window and entered,
chattering right in my face. I held my breath and she went back to the feeder in
Then, she repeated her action. I held my breath again and she went back to the trap.
When I saw her coming at me again, I shooed her away lest yet another hummer get
caught inside the house. I had to shoo her twice before she flew up into the Magnolia
About 3:00, I had to leave the house for a little while. I didn't know what to expect
when I returned, but the situation was unchanged - 2 hummers hovering up near the
Perhaps an hour later, one of the birds just dropped down and flew out the open window.
Meanwhile, I had gone back to my work. At some point, I realized the room had become
quiet and I looked all around. The last hummer was gone. The dragonfly was gone.
Suddenly, I realized the afternoon had become quite warm, so I closed all the windows
and turned the air-conditioner back on. Gee, the air-conditioning feels good!
Copyright © 1999
Nancy L. Newfield