Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Harlem hummingbird

It happened. A hummingbird came to the terrace. It buzzed once, disappeared up a dark building shaft, an impossible green speck, then reappeared a few minutes later, from the other side of the terrace. It visited the jewelweed, flew off, and came back a third time. Long enough to allow Vince to take some really good pictures with an appropriate lens. I was frozen in place with my 50mm, which I had been using to shoot pictures of garlic and fennel, for a food story. But I snapped away, anyway.

The cat was sitting nearby and at one point I saw his eyes light up:

I took his picture. I thought he must be looking at a bee. But minutes later the hummingbird hovered into my field of vision.

Don't worry -  he doesn't eat birds. But he likes to watch.

I was transfixed by the sweet creature. Very, very happy.

It stayed longest at the jewelweed, which is in full bloom. I planted a few seedlings that I had brought from Inwood in the spring, in case of poison ivy contact (it's reputed to prevent the rash), and I also thought it might do well in this difficult, shady corner (it has). Little did I suspect that hummers are drawn to it. It touched on the cardinal vine several times, and on the scarlet runner beans, too. All winter  - the long winter of my discontent -  I dreamed of a summer terrace, to stay sane (it was touch and go) and ordered seeds of plants I thought might attract these tiny birds.

I hope it makes it all the way home. Wherever that is.


                  September Botanical Walk Schedule


  1. what a blessing! wonderful. - DBN

  2. Lovely! They are a beautiful sight. I see them once in a while in my own garden but usually when the camera is inside (a lesson that my camera should always be with me). Have you thought to look up the meaning of a hummingbird as an animal totem?

  3. I was going to say the same thing as Allison. Symbolically, they are essentially telling us to be joyful, be energetic, and appreciate beauty. Truthfully this isn’t always easy for us to do, so every time I see a hummingbird I try very had to take that message to heart – they are such a miracle that it seems to me like I must.

    I have one in my community garden plot. I call her Marguerite. For some reason I cannot be in the plot when she comes for dinner. I can stand two feet away from her on the other side of the fence while she sips from the cardinal flower, but not two feet beside her if I am in the plot. She will hover over my head “grumping” at me until I step outside. She literally makes me breathless every time I see her.

    Beautiful images and story, from both you and Vince. Thank you.

  4. It is like those occasions when you come across wild (hopefully non aggressive) animals in the woods etc. Just plain magical. I felt the same way when seeing deer four feet away from me at a friend's cabin. You stand stock still, breathe slowly and quietly and observe the beauty of nature's live creatures. Beautiful photos!

  5. Look for them at dawn and dusk. I hope yo get to spot more!

  6. Good for you - how wonderful! And a wonderful post as always.

  7. Lucky! It's always breathtaking to see a hummingbird. Amazing creatures. So powerful for such a tiny thing, I recall that some fly across the Gulf of Mexico during their migrations - I can't imagine.
    Thanks for sharing.


  8. I love the hummers in my yard. They will perch & guard their favorite flowers or feeders from other hummers.

  9. You managed great shots, even with the 50 mm. Proof that it's not the lens that makes the shot, it's the... Hummingbird.

  10. Hummingbirds consume more than their own weight in nectar each day, and to do so they must visit hundreds of flowers daily. Hummingbirds are continuously hours away from starving to death and are able to store just enough energy to survive overnight.[15] from wikipaedia. How amazing to see them in Harlem, reminds me of the African sunbirds hovering round the watsonias in kirstenbosch in Cape Town. Beautiful!


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