Pondering life’s more pleasant questions

Published 7:30 am Saturday, September 10, 2022

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Was Bob Chippie born bob-tailed? Does Finny Finch have a sweet tooth? Are the hummingbirds mad at each other?

One of the pleasures of retirement is eating breakfast on our sun porch and pondering such questions as the above while lingering at the table to watch the activity in the back yard.

There was a time when we were afraid that our chipmunks had met an untimely death when we had some work in progress that could disrupt their lifestyle. We were relieved one spring when some of the quirky creatures again appeared regularly at our bird feeding sites. It was fun to watch them stuff their jaws with chicken scratch and take off to their tunnels, returning in seconds to start over again. A month or so, they stopped coming, causing us to wonder if they had been endangered by something left by our exterminator. We knew it was not time for them to hibernate, so I was delighted when several reappeared.

One morning I did a double take when a chippie ran across the remaining sidewalk where grain was scattered. It was bob-tailed, so I named it Bob Chippie, We questioned whether it lost its tail in a life struggle or if it was it born that way.

During that time activity at the hummingbird feeders was at fever pitch. At least three hummers constantly buzzed around them. They competed with either each other to perch on the feeder to sip the sugar water in the feeders. They perched on tree branches and my clothesline, and then whirled around an approaching hummingbird to divert it from the feeder. We did not know if they were fighting or courting. Whatever motivated them was strong.

One morning, I watched two of them frantically diving toward the feeder. Up and down they swooped with the sun illuminating the whirling motions of their beautiful wings. I was so fascinated with this unusual display that it took me some minutes for the cause of the commotion to click in my mind. A finch clumsily moved along the fragile perch, inspecting the tiny yellow plastic flowers with minute holes designed for hummer bills. It seemed not to notice the activity it caused. I was surprised a hummer did not attack it with its long, sharp bills.

There was plenty of food in our finch feeder a few yards away, but Finny Finch must have preferred a change in diet. Perhaps he had developed a sweet tooth. When he finally flew away, the hummingbirds took up where they left off, resuming their usual competition.

Instead of presenting ourselves with the bad news of the day by radio or television at the breakfast table, we give the digestive process a break by pondering less disturbing questions about Finny Finch, Bob Chippie and the hummingbirds.