Nancy Newfield

Nancy L. Newfield has been watching hummingbirds at her Louisiana home and lots of other places since 1975. Nancy lost her amateur status years ago, and now writes and lectures on hummers. She is co-author of Hummingbird Gardens, reviewed elsewhere on this site. Nancy is also a licensed hummingbird bander and a recognized authority on hummingbird distribution, behavior, and taxonomy.

September 1999

Air-Conditioning Feels Good

After yesterday's gentle waft of cool air, I was more than eager to open up the house again this morning. It was another glorious day of blue skies and fair temperatures. About 10:00, I walked into the office to begin writing on a very long overdue article. A female Ruby-throat was perched on the feeder about 2 feet from the open window.

Hummers usually zip off when there is movement in the room, but this one remained perched. She eyed me suspiciously then flew in to investigate the image of a Magnificent Hummingbird on my T-shirt.

I froze so she wouldn't panic. Calmly, the little bird flew around the room minutely inspecting the pictures, books, and other assorted clutter. There is a lot of clutter in the office. Then, she just flew up to the ceiling!

Mentally, I flipped through my options. Skip had just left for work and would not be home until late afternoon. He was working about 50 miles away and I had no way to contact him. No help there.

Now, the office ceiling is 12 feet high. And, I'm just a little over 5'1". There wasn't much hope of catching this gal with a butterfly net.

I decided to place a feeder directly in the window, knowing full well that I chanced enticing yet another bird inside. She didn't seem stressed or panicky, but she stayed aloft.

Pretty soon, there were 2 little Ruby-throats up near the ceiling. They fought with each other and chased. Every once in a while, one or both birds lit upon one of the <i>National Geographics</i> stacked on the top shelf. After a little rest, the two birds went back to fighting.

As I sat at the computer, trying to write, I could hear the steady hum of trochilid wings overhead. Upping the ante, I placed a red bandanna on the sill, weighted down by two ERA detergent jugs - lots of red to get their attention.

About noon, I went into the kitchen for lunch and when I returned, only one hummer was buzzing up near the ceiling. The other bird was perched on the feeder outside the window. Before long, the second hummer cautiously approached the feeder from inside the office. But before I could do anything, the perched hummer chased the other one back into the house and then I had two hummers flying around the ceiling - again.

Writing wasn't coming along all that well. Mostly, the birds were quiet, but every so often, one of them emitted a high, thin, gut-piercing distress call. What could I do?

A clattering sound from the kitchen drew my attention. It was a big green dragonfly that had also become trapped. Whew!!! At least it wasn't another hummer.

I looked out the open office window to the trap about 6 feet away. Another Ruby-throat was calmly perched on a feeder inside the cage. She flew over to the window and entered, chattering right in my face. I held my breath and she went back to the feeder in the trap.

Then, she repeated her action. I held my breath again and she went back to the trap. When I saw her coming at me again, I shooed her away lest yet another hummer get caught inside the house. I had to shoo her twice before she flew up into the Magnolia tree!

About 3:00, I had to leave the house for a little while. I didn't know what to expect when I returned, but the situation was unchanged - 2 hummers hovering up near the ceiling.

Perhaps an hour later, one of the birds just dropped down and flew out the open window. Meanwhile, I had gone back to my work. At some point, I realized the room had become quiet and I looked all around. The last hummer was gone. The dragonfly was gone.

Suddenly, I realized the afternoon had become quite warm, so I closed all the windows and turned the air-conditioner back on. Gee, the air-conditioning feels good!

Happy Hummingbirding!

Copyright © 1999
Nancy L. Newfield
Casa Colibri
Metairie, LA