Anyone who has a hummingbird feeder is familiar with the rigidly enforced pecking order of the birds who feed, or try to feed, there. This morning it was somewhat was amusing (OK, satisfying) to see the boss bird being chased and herded away from the sweet nectar by a red wasp and another tiny black flying insect.

hummingbirds at feeder
SHOO! Red wasp ‘owns’ the feeder despite the efforts of a trio of hummingbirds.






On a sad note, there was a recent changing of the guard at our feeder following the death of Napoleon (We found a little hummingbird body back in July that we believe to be his.)


After weeks of rain and cloud cover that denied us a chance to see the Perseids this year we had a run of clear days and nights, giving August’s blue moon a chance to shine. Ran out on the deck before work to capture it. As I clicked off frame after frame, the local hummingbirds swirled around in their usual aerial battles. One of them managed a little photobombing.

Blue moon setting over the misty Ouachitas.
Full moon.
Tighter shot of our August blue moon.

A little birdie told me …

Winter gave way to spring and Lent is giving way to Easter.

Here on the mountain, a little birdie told us it’s time for another seasonal change, from Christmas to, well, now.

For each of the last three seasons, ruby throated hummingbirds have jetted, dog-fought (is this the past tense of dog-fight?) and hovered around our deck to enjoy homemade nectar. Wednesday night, one of the hummingbirds reappeared, having returned from his winter home nearer the equator. We spotted him checking each of the red bulbs on the strings of Christmas lights draped around the deck, probably thinking at each stop that the next one would be a refreshing floral Slurpee. It seemed a terrible (and unintentional) trick to play on the poor little guy. It was time to take the lights down and put the feeder up.

There is something even more ambitious on our seasons-change agenda, something in honor of Easter: taking down the Christmas tree. The Leland Cypress we bought the week after Thanksgiving has, amazingly, remained green and supple. We will hate to see it go, but it will serve as additional cover for our wild neighbors down the mountain slope.

So, what does all have to do with the spiders below? They are the new seasonal deck decor in the absence of Christmas lights.

HE'S GOT LEGS -- Daddy long legs clings to the underside of the railing.
GREEN and HAIRY -- The photo doesn't do it justice, but this spider with tiny tufts of hair was the same pale green of all-things-that-glow-in-the-dark with black accents.
SUSPENSION BRIDGE -- Spider hangs on a silken line from deck table to chair.

Angry birds

They look cute with their big dark eyes and their wee tiny feet, but make no mistake, hummingbirds are ruthless when it comes to protecting “their” feeder. Normally, it’s Napoleon or some other dominant hummingbird who chases the others away, but this morning, a big red wasp had succeeded in turning the pecking order on its head. The wasp aggressively chased off every feathered rival, including Napoleon, at both feeding stations. The wasp met its match in the form of a flyswatter. It managed one comeback, but hasn’t been seen after a second strike.

battling hummingbirds
DOGFIGHT -- Two hummingbirds collide in a battle for nectar.
Three battling birds
THREE FOR ALL -- Three hummingbirds battle for a chance at some nectar.
Wasp on feeder
MINE -- This wasp dominated the feeders for a good part of the morning. A good whack upside his head sent him off for some time, allowing the hummingbirds to return.

Napoleon is mad …

And who wouldn’t be? When was the last time we had a dry weekend? (well, OK, last weekend WAS an exception!)  More than 4 inches of rain has fallen since noon Friday and Sunday arrived complete with another barrage of lightning, thunder and a few chunks of hail for good measure.

Ruby throated hummingbird
Napoleon, the only ruby-throated hummingbird on the deck, takes command of the high ground on between heavy rain. He and the rufous hummingbirds constantly battle for control of the feeders.
rain gage
Four inches and counting ...

Battling birds

A storm rumbled in the background while birds rumbled in the foreground. This sequence was captured from video taken by the digital still camera. [What’s wrong with that picture?]

Sequence of hummingbirds fighting
Hummingbirds spend more time fighting than feeding. (still capture from digital video)
Small lightning stroke
Lightning in Saline County during a summer storm in the Ouachitas (still capture from digital video)