Garden Notes: The Falcon and the Hummingbird

My tiny patch of garden received two return visitors a couple of days ago. Probably they both visit more often, but I don’t happen to see them.
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Actually I have seen the hummingbird (s?) several times since the first sighting a short while ago. I have been lucky enough to get much longer sightings.
Honeysuckle with its clean and heady fragrance is much in evidence at the moment. It seems to have different seasons –one earlier on, and one about now (end of August, beginning of September).
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It occurred to me that the familiar honeysuckle flower (what is that shape? Trumpet? No, it’s a hautbois, isn’t it? I’m remembering those medieval angels, with hautbois’s –from the French, “haut”- for high, and “bois” for wood,). Anyway, it occurred to me that the honeysuckle flower is the ideal shape for a hummingbird’s beak to sip from.
Nature thinks of everything –if I’m expressing that right. Anyway, you know what I mean.
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There was the hummingbird, so extraordinarily precise in its movement as well as it’s in-place hovering. There is a feeling of computerised calculation of angle and distance –zip; zip; zip.
And the whole tiny thing no bigger than the first two joints of my little finger.
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The mourning doves and sparrows were all in attendance, augmented with the odd cardinal, blue jay, blackbird and woodpecker, plus a tiny unidentified newcomer who has started visiting for the sunflower seeds (it perches on top of the sunflower head, and methodically works its way along the Fibonacci rows of seeds.)
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They had had their morning recital –they all seem to like (as I do) my French Horn version of Beatle-song, “A Long and Winding Road”. Some of the lines echo off each other, and the French Horn is the perfect instrument to bring out that echo.
It also seems to have a special appeal to the mourning doves –my theory is that the horn echoes in an odd way the mourning dove “coo”.
(Of course you know that I am no instrument-virtuoso: I get all these instrument voices from my little Yamaha keyboard, which to my ear reproduces the sounds
astonishingly well.)
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I have become convinced that many of the doves wait for a tune that they recognize, and possibly even like, before they will come to the feeder.
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Well, there they all were. Most of the birds had eaten, and were hanging around my tomato-stake structure. I went on to preparing some little pots, filling them with potting soil, when there was a sudden flap of wings, of all the birds taking off very quickly, and several loud screeches to accompany the beating of wings.
They all were heading for the leafy, branchy, cover of the tree of heaven at the bottom of the garden, when into view came a large invading peregrine falcon, dropping rapidly down to six feet or so, and executing at blur-speed the most extraordinary U-turn in the tomato-rows –where the birds had all been the merest split-second before.
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It swooped up again, just as rapidly, –this time with empty claws– and in a few short powerful wing-strokes, made it to the branch of a tall tree in the copse on the other side of my next-door-neighbor Fred’s garden. There it roosted casually for quite some time, just a very short distance from a flock of pigeons who had all just remembered that they had to be….somewhere else, no doubt on a pigeon-appointment.
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(As opposed to a falcon-disappointment?)
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(Or is that just too-cute by half?)
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By the way, did I mention that one of the mourning doves looks like it had escaped another falcon attack recently? It had substantial damage on one eye, and a lot of feathers stripped from its neck…..


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