The last of the migrating Hummingbirds has come and gone! This little one arrived last week and spent only a few days at Sontheim. I’ve watched it visit our two remaining feeders primarily at sunrise and sunset.
It did not surprise me that it arrived with its weight well below flight readiness. What intrigued me was the fact that it did not take full advantage of the fresh sugar-water provided here, and it worried me that it left before it had bulked up sufficiently for its long migration.
I saw the little Hummer last after a very cold and stormy night, drinking deeply from the feeder in front of the kitchen window. As far as I can tell, it has not returned since and I can only assume that it continued its journey along the Mississippi in an attempt to stay ahead of the encroaching cold.
I don’t know, which is more worrisome: a tiny Hummer leaving before it is ready, or a fat little Hummer reluctant to leave its refuge as the temperature dips toward freezing every night.
Now that the last of the Hummingbirds has left for the South, I think about the long and dangerous journey they embark upon every year. How many will be snared by the multifold dangers they encounter along the way? How many will lose their lives by being trapped in the fog and residue of agricultural pesticides that are so liberally sprayed to produce cheap food. And how many will arrive to find their winter habitat destroyed by an ever-expanding human population, by its insatiable appetite, its ignorance and greed?
Weather I worry or not, I have done my share to give these tiny birds a chance to survive. The rest is out of my hands and so I send my prayers along for the journey. Bon voyage my little ones, may you thrive along the way and return to Sontheim in the Spring.
Let me conclude with the words of Emily Dickinson and share with you this somber yet beautiful poem:
Death is a dialogue between
the spirit and the dust.
“Dissolve,” says Death. The Spirit, “Sir
I have another trust.”
Death doubts it, argues from the ground.
The Spirit turns away,
Just laying off, for evidence.
Another coat of Clay.