Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tinier Than Tiny: A Hummingbird on October Blossoms

See the blurry speck up top, close to middle, window in background? Maybe not, but I swear it was a "baby" Hummingbird

Out at twilight with the dogs, I saw at first what I took to be some kind of insect darting in and out of our sprawling Lantana with its proliferous blooms. It was sipping the nectar so I took it to be some kind of weird bee -- that is, until it headed right at me with its wings -- yes, wings! -- flapping furiously and with its outsized beak pointed right at my chest. (I ducked.)

Amazingly enough, I am about 99.99 percent certain this critter is a tiny hummingbird. I know, that sounds redundant -- hummingbirds ARE nothing if not tiny:  5 or 6 inches long, weighing about half what a nickel coin weighs. However, this one was even tinier, maybe 2 inches, and it did more flitting with total disregard of humans or dogs within inches of it than the hummingbirds of summer.

My wife observed it, too, and we both were pronouncing it a "baby hummingbird," though that hardly seems possible now when hummingbirds are in migratory mode. Did family planning fail a pair of hummers? No, there must be some other explanation. We are getting close to the time of year when some hummingbirds replace their feathers. Maybe we spotted this one just a-molting away? That is just a wild guess. I just know it was a wild experience watching this teeny-tiny winged creature licking those multi-colored flowers.

A Bee Hummingbird -- Yep, Tiny 
For confirmation, I tried very hard to take its picture. I am going to post a couple of attempts in case there is a blurry dot that might show up. These latest visitors are about 10 times harder to film than your average summer's hummingbird, which are hard enough to shoot. They are so very tiny, and they move fast -- sometimes right at you. That trait made me think of a "bee hummingbird," and there actually is such a species -- moreover, it is the world's tiniest hummingbird. However, its habitat is Cuba, and it is hard to figure how one might have gotten to South Carolina. Flower-filled freedom boat?

In any event, Big Mama is cooking up some more nectar this evening in case we will be having some highly welcomed diminutive guests over the winter -- ones more magical even than eight tiny, miniature reindeer.

                                                         © Robert G. Holland  2014

Nope, It Got Away. But Aren't the Lantana Blooms pretty?

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