A Marked Bird
Dave Patton came out Sunday and set out his trapping apparatus to catch the calliope hummingbird that has been staying here this winter. Within a short time he did catch it and then he did the measurements he routinely takes, placed the band on its leg (visible in picture), and released it. In a short time it was back at the feeders sucking down sugar water. It may spend a few more weeks here before leaving for its breeding grounds in the northwest, perhaps as far north as central British Columbia. That’s a long way for this little animal, the smallest bird in North America, to travel. . Information in the reference source “Birds of North America” shows this species breeding in the Pacific Northwest and Canada and wintering in southern Mexico. Obviously some of them head east instead and spend the winter around here. I am always appalled when I think of the hazards that will present themselves to this animal on this twice-a-year thousands-of-miles round trip! And some of them seem to do this for a life span of at least six years, the first year by necessity without any previous experience. Pretty hardy little bird, I think.
Sometimes when we do the banding, we have to put His Excellency Napoleon Bonaparte Felis inside, where he watches the birds at the window feeder. By now he knows he can’t catch the birds (many lunges having been abruptly stopped by the glass, with unknown numbers of headaches) but he watches anyway. Yesterday I was outside and it occurred to me to wonder what he looked like to a bird feeding so close to the window. Did they really see that a cat was just six inches away from them and could they see this and still come to the feeder? So I took a few pictures from the bird’s point of reference. The result was a set of very eerie-looking images of the cat – just inside the window. In the one here you can see the trees outside behind me, the glass window, and Nopoleon inside. I told Carolyn I should make up a story that the cat had died and when I went outside I could see his ghost looking out the window at me, and I got a picture of it. She said no.
The river is at 6.8 feet on the Butte La Rose gauge, rising slowly to 7.4 feet by Sunday. But the Ohio and Mississippi are both falling all the way up so we may soon get even lower stages than we see now. This is an example of why docks are so hard to maintain on the Atchafalaya. The water has fallen almost ten feet in the last few weeks, enough to leave any unattended docks high and dry until the next high water floated them free again, and that has been an iffy situation the last few years (high water, I mean).