The Hum of Hunger
Two months ago, we put up a hummingbird feeder. It is a seemingly harmless glass container with little red perches. At first, we had to replace the sugar mixture once a week. Then it was every three or four days. Now we fill up the feeder in the morning and return in the evening to find it empty. I warned Meghan a few weeks ago that they were getting selfish. I told her that I had seen fat ones napping in the trees, their wings too heavy to make frantic little figure eights. I advised her to manage their expectations instead of rushing to fulfill their needs. But she didn't listen, and now she thinks we might need to get another feeder to prevent the crowd from dying. I think we need to teach them an important lesson in patience and discipline.
If you drive down the road a couple hundred yards, you can see the three trees that make up their apartment complex. In answer to why we suddenly had so many more birds to feed, we assumed that the first hummingbirds had spread word to their friends about the abundant food, but my friend Johnny told me that the first hummingbirds gave birth, and we are now feeding the parents and the babies. I'm not buying it. Some look related, but a lot don't. I think there are a lot of drunk neighbors crashing the family picnic, trying to get more than their share of the sugar water.
Today while the new mixture was cooling I went out to look at the empty feeder. As usual, there was a stout watchman asleep on his perch. I thought he was dead and had to watch him for any movement. And that's exactly what he wanted. He wanted to make sure I know it's all about him. I understand food anxiety; it's this small bird attitude of entitlement that makes me mad.