Hummingbird song

It was a beautiful morning; calm sunshine and cool while still plenty warm enough for a short-sleeve shirt. On mornings like this I would usually ride my bike to work, but on this day I drove my car so that I could take care of an errand before work.

The company where I work started out as a single manufacturing building, but over the years it has become a sprawling campus. There are many buildings and parking lots, but they are downplayed by lots of grassy areas with trees and shrubs and an amazing amount of flowers. The flowers are in full bloom on this day, and everything is green and lush.

I love days like this. Cool, clean air that seems to fill me with energy. Blue sky and birdsong.

I heard a familiar call and stopped for a moment to scan the top of a nearby Eucalyptus tree. Fresno is home to a lot of hummingbirds, but you would never know it just by looking. These little birds keep out of sight at the tops of trees and are rarely seen near the ground. I’ve met people who have lived in Fresno for years and never seen a hummingbird outside of a photo or video.

But my father taught me to appreciate and recognize birdsong, and I’ve learned to recognize the “squeaky-door with high-pitched radio static” call of the local hummingbirds. I hear them everywhere outside. And if I take a moment and focus on the hummingbird’s call I can actually find him – right there! He’s sitting on a small branch at the top of the Eucalyptus tree, singing his little heart out to a potential girlfriend. I silently wish him luck and move on.

It sounds like a beautiful spring morning doesn’t it? Perhaps sometime in May or early June?

No. This happened today, November 13th.

This isn’t some sort of “Indian Summer” because the weather here has yet to drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Autumn for Fresno usually means the beginning of the rainy season, and we have had our first major rainfall. (I hope it rains a lot more – California is in a drought.) The summer didn’t seem any hotter than usual for Fresno – at least not to me. But it stayed warm longer. It’s been warm enough to go swimming here until the week of Halloween, and today’s weather is just beautiful.

Is this a symptom of climate change? I dunno – I’m not a scientist. I think that Bush buried one of the best tools that we could have used to prove beyond a doubt to the majority of the worst climate change deniers that climate change is real and ongoing. As beautiful as it is this morning, I feel vaguely uneasy at what it might imply.

I hope that Obama’s administration resurrects DSCVR so that we can know if my beautiful day today is natural, or man-made.


spajadigit said...

Well, I don't know about Fresno, but here in Burbank it's been one of the hottest, longest summers we've had, and it started out with a 120 degree weekend in March (which then cooled down to the mid seventies until May where it was regularly in the high nineties)and finally broke after an 80 degree Halloween night.

My laymans guess? Man-made.

possum_momma said...

Did you see that next week the Ghost Hunters are running an episode about the "Clovis Sanatorium"?

Unknown said...

Hey - I didn't know you were a birder too! We should go birdwatching sometime... :-)

Calladus said...


I guess I'm not a "watcher" - I'm more like a "listener".

I listen to the local mockingbirds (I do love to watch them hunt in the gardens. No one really knows why they flash their wings while hunting!)

I listen to the local Jays, and to the Ravens. I love Ravens - they're so smart. But noisy! A colony lives above my apartment complex, and I have to use white noise to drown them out and sleep.

I love listening to the call of the Doves here. My father used to imitate Dove calls. Dad could imitate bird calls so well that at the right time of the year he could get them to fly in circles around him.

I know something about the songbirds in the South New Mexico and Texas badlands. The call of the Meadowlark is one of my favorite calls.

There is a covey of Quail that live in the field near where I work. I believe they are Bob White from the calls that I hear. They've run out in front of my car from time to time. Sometimes there's a trail of Quail with a line of chicks following the mom.

I love watching the little black birds that walk around our company cafeteria and the parking lots of the local shopping center. They're so brave, nothing seems to disturb them. Their strut is so like a predator that you can see the dinosaur in them!

So in a way, I do watch. I tend to listen more. But I've never been serious about birding.