Tobago

Tobago
Horizon at Sandy Point

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Feeding hummingbirds

Sexy pink - favorite nectar sources of hummingbirds

Hanging balisier - the red and the "sexy pink" - and some sprigs of "firecracker" are the main attractions for hummingbirds in our garden. So adding two hummingbird feeders was mainly for human entertainment. The feeder looks like a flying saucer - a bright red dome with six tiny holes each surrounded by a yellow faux flower. The "nectar" or sugar water goes in a clear shallow saucer below the dome. At least two hummingbirds have decided that they like these conveniences. Located near to the sexy pink heliconias, the feeders offer an alternative food source that the birds seem to enjoy. The other day we were chased by one feisty emerald when we removed the feeder to clean and refill it. Imagine two inches of long-beaked missile darting at your face!

Hummingbird feeder
My reservation against the feeders remains the same. We don't want these birds to become dependent on us for their sugar water, do we? The little voice retorts, "We owe them, don't we?" And so, without more pre-thought, we accept responsibility for the care of a few hummingbirds.

The truth is, though I am part of a nice gated community, my lot is on the hill edge of Northern Range rainforest. Trees that I planted now tower some sixty feet over the house. The forest on the north and the east and the west are rampant walls of green. But for the dogs, agoutis are likely to traipse along our driveway. The occasional iguana suns itself in plain view. (Today we heard pellet shot and calling out to the dense green thicket, "Move away from there..." we were answered by a huff and grunt.)

It should be no surprise then to find the occasional snake skimming through the chain link. Today however, this one had made itself comfortable in the space at the top of the french door where a pane of glass is missing. We managed to dislodge it with a broom, sweeping it almost twenty feet to the driveway below where it landed with a thud, drew itself back and threatened to strike at one of the dogs, before being encouraged by a spray of water to slide back towards the fence and through the tall bushes into the forest.

Only after the adrenalin rush of ensuring the survival of the snake (I have long un-learned the Trini conviction "the only good snake is a dead one") with no harm to human or dog, have I put my mind to imagine how he came so far into the house and past the dog that sleeps outside that very door. Did he mount the stairs? Climb up the twenty foot columns anchoring the roof to the ground? Swing from a branch of the cassia tree and slide along the wooden roof beam? What brought him here?

Knock knock, who's there? Cascabel. Cascabel who?
And I am sent again to re-read D. H. Lawrence's immortal encounter, Snake (1923) and admit in my heart of hearts:

And truly I was afraid, I was most afraid, But even so, honoured still more
That he should seek my hospitality
From out the dark door of the secret earth.


So too I am honoured by the hummingbirds that come to rest and refresh at my feeders.

(Read Lawrence's entire poem here: http://homepages.wmich.edu/~cooneys/poems/dhl.snake.html)

Making himself at home on a different kind of branch


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