One evening, eating dinner outside on the deck, my family and I were buzzed by a hummingbird. Apparently, we were invading his territory: all the flowers he likes to frequent on the deck.
I enjoyed his visit so much, I hung up a feeder.
Within days, I had more than one bird calling. And I’ve seen as many as four at a time vying for space.
I’m certain they must have all been in the neighborhood, just not visiting me at the same time. The feeder is acting a bit like a water cooler: a place where all the hummingbirds can hang out together.
Or so I thought.
The birds are fighting.
I know this because I hung the feeder in a location where I can see it from nearly any window on the back of the house. And while I’m home, I’ve been watching.
One bird in particular, has been very territorial.
He chases off all the other birds when he’s around.
This morning, I watched them fight in the air, appearing to dance, or mate: swirling and turning, zooming high into the sky and then spiraling down, one bird always chasing the other.
Lately, the territorial bird has taken to sitting on the nail above the feeder, keeping watch for other birds. I’ve watched him watching.
His little head moves back and forth, almost as if he’s viewing a tennis match, but always alert for another hummer. He won’t allow them within even a few feet of the feeder. He attacks as soon as another hummingbird shows interest in drinking.
(Seems like craziness, if you ask me. There’s no way he’ll be able to consume everything in the feeder!)
Being able to watch these little guys has killed a lot of my preconceived notions about hummingbirds. I’m filled with awe. (And I know these creatures will soon play a role in one of my stories.)
Here’s your prompt: Step outside your door and admire nature. (Even if you live in the city, there’s got to be something you can observe: ants in the crack of the sidewalk, bees attracted to a flower box, squirrels in the park, etc.) Look for something that you’ve not paid attention to in the past. Observe until you notice something you didn’t know before. Now write about it. Write a vignette about what you’ve seen, including your observations. Use your new knowledge to flesh out the setting of a story you’re currently working on. Or, simply journal about it. If you journal, write how you feel about what you’ve learned.