How to free a hummingbird from a skylight

Male black-chinned hummingbird

Like most folks, my husband, kids, and I greet spring’s arrival with relief.   The relaxing of winter’s grip, the first crack of color between sepals clutching flower buds, the sun’s liberating warmth all lighten the load my family balances gingerly as we carry it through winter’s dimly-lit cellars.   But as daylight’s gold, pink or orange borders stretch from their winter proportions to become a mazy, five in the morning €˜til nine-thirty at night field of shimmer and electrical storms, we pay particularly close attention to a tweak in light that occurs around April’s third week.   At a certain change of pitch in the sunshine’s angle and intensity, hummingbirds return to traditional nesting sites in our southeastern Utah neighborhood from snowbird resorts in Mexico. Continue reading “How to free a hummingbird from a skylight”

What’s really wild

A little over four and a half years ago my family moved from Payson City in Utah County to a new home at the desert’s edge in San Juan County, Utah.   Living on the Colorado Plateau has been something of a dream come true. Besides reintroducing me to a more natural (for me) environment, living here helps me cope with the pressures of caring for a high maintenance, special needs child.   Even on days when I can’t leave the yard I can walk out on the rickety second-story porch and see the trunk of a rainbow standing only a few hundred feet away or  take in  the silky ripple of cloud shadow and sunshine across the pinyon-juniper forest stretching miles to the south.   Thunderstorms in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and southeast Utah ring and electrify our kiva-roof sky.   At night, a very good view of the Milky Way’s spiraling embrace and the ceaseless anthesis and waning of moonlight keep imagination astir nearly until the moment I fall asleep. Continue reading “What’s really wild”

WIZ’s spring photo gallery

Wilderness Interface Zone  is happy to announce  the arrival of  its spring photo gallery, now  showing in the photo box in the upper right-hand corner of the page  displayed on your screen.   It’s a little late, I know, but flowers,  tree leaves, migratory birds, and torpid amphibians and reptiles have only emerged  in  abundance here in San  Juan County,  Utah over the last three weeks.   I did include some photos from the winter gallery I couldn’t bear to part with.  

My son Saul took these pictures using a Kodak DX6490.   He shot somewhere around four hundred photographs, from which we chose these seventeen.   Many spring flowers haven’t yet bloomed.   Hopefully, we’ll be able to get nice shots of can’t-be-missed subjects  to add  to this collection. Continue reading “WIZ’s spring photo gallery”

Dances with hummingbirds

Our homemade hummingbird feeders attach at approximately waist level to the two-by-four railing that runs around our second story porch.   This puts the hummers down with us when they stop by for refreshers between bouts of very small game hunting.   Once they arrive mid-April or so, we wind into the lives of these brilliant dynamos to the point of familiarity.   That is, we share the porch space freely, with the hummers chasing past our heads or otherwise threading their paths through ours. It becomes something of a dance, we humans walking along the porch or in the garden, the hummingbirds dipping, weaving, zipping around us.   Except for unusually marked birds, like one albinous male black-chinned that drops by, I can’t identify individuals.   Some of them, however, have no trouble recognizing me. Continue reading “Dances with hummingbirds”

What I did and thought, Earth Day 2008

Parts of this entry rise a little above-average personal in nature.   I don’t mean to make this an “alms before men” post.   I want  to try to show how easily— for me, anyway—  thinking can slide between my  experiences with  animals and the ones I have  with people.     Also, I don’t remember ever having written down the “Hillbilly Dilly” episode noted below, and since the hummingbird called it to mind, after my not  thinking about it for  many years, I  imagined the moment right for the telling.

April 22, 2008

At the cliff this morning, I find  a colony of  white-throated swifts fully active, hunting the wild blue, tangling into the wind gusts that stream  through the canyon’s channel  and splash  against  its rocks.

A vulture passes by, very low, slightly out from the ledge where I sit.  

A swift just cut in  quite close, the vrrrrr of its wings  as they sliced  air sounding like a miniature jet.   A pair of hawks circle high overhead.

Will eagles come?   I barely finish writing the question  when I  look up to see a golden eagle, juvenile or maybe second year, brown feathers flecked with white.    As I  gaze up  at the eagle, a black-chinned hummingbird rises like a helicopter  into my line of sight, directly between the eagle and me, probably examining the burgundy tones in my shirt, faded overall but most vivid in the cuffs.

Continue reading “What I did and thought, Earth Day 2008”