Thursday, May 5, 2011

Birds flock to the Humm-Diner

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — I let my hummers down this spring, and they let me know about it.
It’s been a tough year, with the freeze and the drought and the eternal, infernal winds.
But that’s no excuse.
I got my garden guy to clean up the major messes, to salvage the few agaves and the lone cactus that survived the freeze, to take away my own bumper crop of dead pine needles and the unlucky windfalls from my neighbor’s dead groves of willow and oleander that landed in my yard.
After all that, and a lot of sweeping and raking on my own, my interim spring “plantings” consisted mostly of dusting and hosing off a bunch of faux geraniums, tulips and hibiscus and sticking them in empty planters around the yard.
I got out my brand new hummingbird feeder a couple of months ago, and left it in the center of the kitchen table, so I’d remember to fill it and put it out.
But I didn’t. I figured I’d wait for the fiercest wind storms to blow over. I waited through February, March and most of April.
On Easter weekend, I went out on the front porch to try to salvage some scattered fake geraniums before a predicted mega windstorm and came face-to-beak with an indignant hummingbird, who had just emerged from checking out a bright red fake hibiscus blossom.
This hummer did not zip off, but decided to make a stand.
If you have ever doubted the reality of interspecies communication, you’ve never experienced prolonged eye contact with a furious, hovering hummingbird.
“C’mon,” said the hummer. “Get real!”
That did it. I went in, mixed some sugar and water, filled the new feeder, and braved the first of the almost-hurricane wind gusts to hang the feeder from a high hook on the back patio.
My first customer bellied up to the birdie bar before I had time to climb down and fold up my stepladder.
And I’m now convinced that hummers must be ascended masters of their own brand of Twitter.
The birds can field a feeding frenzy a lot quicker than human Tweets and Facebook rallies can foment a social revolution. The hummers’ social network was, well, humming.
I wondered, in fact, if my CEHK (Close Encounter of the Hummingbird Kind) had established a mind meld and the bird could sense me heading inside, mixing the sugared nectar and heading out the back door in time to alert and summon a hungry crowd.
And where did they come from? None of my near neighbors have feeders and the back of my yard is flanked by a strip of desert territory claimed mostly by quail, roadrunners and jackrabbits.
However it happened, the word was clearly out that Derrickson’s Humm-Diner was open for business.
Parties of two or three hovered over the three plastic flowers on the feeder and quickly discovered a new feature — tiny perches under each flower feeding station.
On the hummer Zagat Guide apps, my establishment was instantly upgraded from a mere fly-by drive-in joint to a five-star, sit-down (on perch-on) fine-dining establishment.
Instead of hovering, hummers hung out and lingered, quickly establishing their own psychic reservation system.
Singles and couples perched in a nearby pine tree and waited patiently for a flowery “table.”
And the clientele has steadily escalated from dawn to dusk, even in the worst windstorms.
I’m grateful for the CEHK alert and promise my loyal customers I’ll do my best to open early and close late from now on. In fact, I’m thinking of investing in a franchise and expanding to Humm-Diners in the side yard and front porch.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.

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