Heavy rains from the remnants of Hurricane Florence forced many bird species to lay low. This young female Ruby-throated Hummingbird hunkered down on the top rung of the tomato cage near our backyard hummingbird feeder.
I took a series of rapid-fire shots of the bird sitting in the rain. In one of those, the hummingbird shook the moisture off its feathers. I was fortunate to catch this awkward looking, twisting position.
Memorial Day has come and gone. You know what that means? It’s the traditional but unofficial start to summer in the United States.
Public swimming pools will open to the sounds of laughter and joyous splashing by youngsters fresh out of school. They are the envy of those still laboring over mandated tests and counting the days until they, too, can roam free.
Church camps and scout camps and Bible schools will open their floodgates and let the children pour in. Snipe hunts and dreaded memorizations will commence just to get to the real treasures, homemade snacks.
The warning chirps of robins disturbed from their nests resound until inattentive humans continue on their way. The first broods of fledglings squawk and beg for their parents to feed them despite being nearly as big. If a brown-headed cowbird has snuck into a song sparrow’s nest, the scene can be grotesque.
Lawn mowers, riding mowers, weed eaters, and leaf blowers join the summer society’s songfest, mostly off key. Those willing and able to expend the energy on their hands and knees for hours at a time do less intrusive weeding. Their rewards come in more than tidy flowerbeds. They enjoy the bees and butterflies flitting from bloom to bloom.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds zip from flower to flower, too. They supplement their diet with long sips at the local sugar water fountain to the delight of dedicated bird watchers everywhere.
Many times the best show is when the tiny birds chase one another high and low, zigzagging at light speed after one another even though there are plenty of places to perch and feed. Those in charge of refilling the feeders applaud the performances.
At night, the summer breezes diminish. Fireflies rise up out of the grasses and fields and light up the evening skies blinking their romantic messages. Overhead, commercial jets sail beneath the stars and planets that twinkle brightly.
On the horizon, faint yellow flashes children like to label heat lightning interrupt the nighttime play. In reality, storms a hundred miles away had already driven other children indoors long before dark.
The next day, the sunrise blazed crimson and orange, signaling a fabled warning to sailors and civilians alike that rain was on its way. Sure enough, a squall line raced through, bending trees to the stress point. A few sacrificed a limb to save the whole.
Lightning flashed and crashed, and hailstones pelted the ripening strawberries to the dismay of both growers and customers. In suburbs and cities, torrents rutted gardens and sump pumps ran overtime.
Those were minor issued compared to the storms that others endure. All of this romanticizing and reminiscing about summer pales in comparison to those whose nights are peppered with gunshots and emergency sirens.
Summer in the city is filled with garden plots, swimming pools, day camps, and library readathons, too. Picnics in the park and taking in a baseball game, Major League or Little League, are also part of the warm weather entertainment.
Bicycling along picturesque country roads or designated bike paths hits its peak. Helmets are always a safety requirement.
Isn’t everything merely a matter of perspective and geography and circumstances?
We still have nearly three weeks until the summer solstice, the scientific start of fun in the sun. It’s also the day with the most daylight, giving us plenty of opportunities to enjoy the sights and sounds of summer yet to come.
My wife called me to the large flowerbed in the front yard. She wanted me to see a funny looking bird, which turned out to be a fledgling American Goldfinch. As I was trying to capture just the right shot of this youngster, another bird caught my attention. A juvenile Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird was working the flowers directly behind the young Goldfinch. I tried without success to get both birds in the same frame. Instead, I had to settle for different photos of each young bird.
A birder more expert than me helped me to identify this bird as a first year male. The streaks and dark patch on its chin marked it as a young male. He only rested briefly on the Japanese Anemone stalk. But it was just long enough for me to snap his portrait.