Friday, April 18, 2008

morning gift

Last weekend working in the garden I happened upon a thin nest about 8 feet up in the pejabaye palms. It was a family of variable seedeaters – one of my favourite birds in the garden. These small finches have such a pretty song and are happy to come close. The male is all black except for a white dot on each wing near the shoulder, the females are a greenish brown. There were two babies in the nest, big ones. In fact when I checked the nest later in the day they had left. But today, Friday, I saw the family in a cherry tree, the babies close and still calling their parents for food. They are the colour of the mother. I’m glad the family has decided to stay close.
I thought to go check the hummingbird nest. I disturbed an iguana in the hibiscus as I approached and he slipped into the river and swam below the surface with strong strokes for about 15 yards before raising his head and swimming periscope style further downstream. The water is a milky coffee brown just now after all the rain and has quite a current to it. The sand bank on the beach must have burst. One of the hummers was making a terrible racket and I thought it must be my presence, I couldn’t see any movement in the nest. I was wondering why she was not trying to distract me away from the nest when suddenly my eyes adjusted and I saw a good sized male basilisk sitting on the branch about 2 feet from her babies. She was darting at him and screaming furiously but he was paying no attention, though his crest was raised. I began to throw some pieces of dry stick at him but he ignored those too. Then I made a lucky throw and a piece hit him on the back – it wouldn’t have hurt, but it was enough to make him jump from the branch into the water and swim upstream. The hummer continued to buzz the area where he had been and it took a few moments for her to assure herself the threat was gone. I felt good, superhero style, but he knows where the nest is, I wonder if he’ll come back? She fed her young, a leaf was in the way so I couldn’t see how big they are, but last week they seemed to be a fair size, I hope they make it.