“Big Red’s” bath time

Bath time

Blazing in the spring sunshine

Here, in Southern California, hummers buzz through my yard, dive-bombing each other in fancy pirouettes all year long. But, starting about now, the number of species which I can spot at my feeders or dipping in the fountains multiplies exponentially.

Big Red, on guard…

This little guy, we have named Big Red. He spends the daylight hours perched atop a branch of my orange tree. His chosen location is not random, but rather very carefully selected so that he can keep an eye out for enemy invaders in his territory.

Can you see his little tongue sticking out to drink the water?

Here, Big Red is on high alert. Can you see the intent in his eyes?

Big Red, on high alert. Can you see the intent in his eyes?

And here he is, throat blazing, looking skyward…

On patrol, looking skyward…

Once he spots another male hummer, he lets loose a trill “whoop,” and swoops down to chase them away.

A rival, a young male, sneaking in for some water…

But, they are pretty smart, these little guys, and while “Big Red” is chasing his rival through the air, another male will often slip in and splash through the tendrils of water and spray trickling down to the level below.

Big Red was not looking!

Big Red was “otherwise occupied,” chasing another hummer away, so this young male slipped in for a quick dip.

This young male had a nice drink and a bath.

But, every once in a while, Big Red surprises me and seems to feel a spark of friendliness towards a fellow hummingbird. Here he is, allowing another hummer in to share the refreshing waters with him.

Sharing the waters…

I like to think they are friends…



Photos and story ©Erika Burkhalter. All rights reserved.