After a quiet winter and spring, in which a few Anna's Hummingbirds would come and go, I was anxious for the Black-chinned Hummingbirds to return in April. I always look forward to their arrival between 16 and 18 April. But this year, 18 April came and went with no sign of them. Which got me thinking: how much do we really know about their migrations, and what influences their arrival times? Given how wet and cooler our winter and spring had been, I presume it had an influence on their late arrival. My research led me to a fascinating discovery: that not only do we understand a lot about bird migrations, we understand with some incredible precision. It is truly amazing to realize how much we understand. Have you ever looked up at the night sky and wondered about the many birds above you who are making their long trek to their final destinations, some of which may be many hundreds if not thousands of miles still to go? It's amazing to think of. And yet, if you're in the U.S. and you'd like to know exactly WHO is on the move above you during the migration periods, you can indeed learn that in the "BirdCast". Turns out, just as we have weather forecasts, we have bird movement forecasts! ;-)
And so as I read about the migrations, I sat and wondered what the spring and summer will bring in new arrivals and new offspring. Last year, we had many male and female Black-chinned in the backyard. We even rescued a tiny baby in our local park. She had clearly fallen from one of the tall redwoods. I had a bad feeling when I saw her little wing looking a bit 'off', but I took her home and she anxiously fed on all of the flower blooms as I cupped her in my hand and gingerly held her up to each one. She was absolutely precious! We let her eat a bit more from the blooms in the yard to give her some energy, not knowing how long she had been without food, then raced her over to our local wildlife rehabilitation facility. Much to our dismay later in the week we learned that her little wing was unrepairable. My only consolation was that she didn't have to lay there on the ground, slowly starving but instead could experience the richness of the food from the flowers - just as her mother had taught her - and certainly felt the love from all of us who cared for her for the time that she had left. Meanwhile, back at home, I was able to bring a smile back to my face as I watched the very tiny but aggressive female Black-chinned who would sit on our light cord under the pergola as her 'throne' and fight off the larger Anna's for a stake at the feeder. Nothing like Nature to teach you hard lessons, but always bring you back to the present moment. For that, I am always grateful ....
And so finally, on 27 April, I heard the unforgettable little squeak in our backyard! As always, I was thrilled to welcome their return. This first one is a tiny little guy. And for weeks he has flitted around our backyard flowers, helping himself to the sage, salvia and many other flowers. Welcome back, little one - to you and to all of the many others who brave the long distances to return here each Spring, to eat, fight for your bit of territory, mate and raise your young. I look forward to the many special moments you will bless us with between now and September when you again must start your long journey back South - and I anxiously watch the calendar to welcome you back 'home' once again.
Remember that this is the season of nesting, so be sure to do all of your tree trimming at a later time. You never know what birds may be using your trees and shrubs for their nesting needs. And as always, contact your local wildlife rehabilitator if you find a bird or newborn chick in need. Enjoy the season!!