by John Deming
Each spring I wait for the end of what seems like a never ending winter. Some things keep me optimistic during the dark days of winter. For me it is thinking about the arrival of many of the migratory birds that are with us for the summer months. Arriving first are the ducks, geese and swans. At times it seems like they never leave but just go to another lake nearby. Next are the robins. I remember as a kid saying I saw my first robin of the year as it looked for something to eat amongst what was left of a recent snowfall. Once the robins have arrived it’s a cascade of birds, mostly warblers that live on insects. Some stay for the summer living high in the trees that makes it difficult for us to follow their activity. Finally, it’s the orioles and hummingbirds. They arrive within a day or two of May 1st.
It is the thought of the return of the hummingbird that moves me most. Not sure why but I think it has to do with their size and how far they travel to get to here. Central America is a common wintering ground for hummingbirds. I’ve seen hummers 600 miles north of Clark Lake in Ontario on a remote lake accessible only by float plane. No sugar water feeders within 100 miles. Still they make the trip, build their nests, produce offspring and then in September they start the trip south. By the 1st of September all the males have left except for juvenile males that have no ruby color under their chin just a hint of dark feathers. Each passing day there are fewer and fewer until one evening sitting on the top branch of a potted plant is “the last one”.