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Featured Image: The Zion Canyon camping area at Watchman on the Virgin River where hummingbirds flew over the river
Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony, 1 July 2020
The featured image shows just how adaptable specialist hummingbirds who migrate to North America are and have to be in the habitats they migrate through and to.
Hummingbirds are feisty and assertive out of all proportion to their size. They will chase off much larger birds from desirable flowers.
They remind me of a little Maltese terrier of my sister’s. A white ball of fluff who had no idea that he was only a small dog. I stupidly took him up in the bush on Black Mountain one day and for a kilometre and a half with the dog in my arms had to fight off the frightening attacks of a pair of swamp harriers, who thought he was close enough to a rabbit for dinner.
I’d like also to use the word aggressive for the hummingbirds but in ethology (animal behaviour) ‘aggressive’ is not to be used, as it is both too vague and anthropomorphic to boot (putting human traits, emotions or intentions onto animals).
As a young person, I thought hummingbirds were incredibly exotic and I wanted to see one. I failed when I went to Canada and travelled through America, Mexico and South America in my early twenties (see Winnipeg and International Peasant Foods). I didn’t see a single humming bird.
Consequently, I was excited when we went to the USA and Canada from May to July last year, at the hope of finally seeing hummingbirds in the wild.
I saw my first hummingbird at the back of the commercial camping area in Zion National Park, flitting and hovering over the stream — the Virgin River. Steve our guide said that he’d seen them there on previous trips. It was adverse circumstances entirely — almost dusk and cold. It hailed while we had dinner half an hour later, up to six inches piled in drifts around our tents. And it snowed overnight.
The hummingbirds — there were two — must have been catching insects. They were midstream. And there were no blossoms nearby.