Many dreadful contingencies have obtained as a result of my having built a tall-ass horse barn, not the least of which is the decimation of the black-chinned hummingbirds.
I don’t know if you know about hummingbirds. Well, let me enlighten you. They are complete freaks of nature. Their metabolism is extreme and ridiculous, necessitated by their predilection for hovering over flowers and their concomitant aversion to taking a load off. If they don’t eat nectar more or less constantly they’ll starve to death within a couple of hours. This is all well and good and as nature intended and whatnot, until they get trapped in your barn.
Though pleasing to the human eye, the architecture of the barn — involving a 25-foot raised center aisle with skylights and fixed clerestory windows all around — is incompatible with hummingbird survival. They fly into the barn for reasons known only to them.
They don’t fly out.
The hummingbird’s instinct, which clearly evolved previous to the invention of RCA barns, compels them to fly up, up, never down toward the open door, always up, toward the skylights. Among the grimmest spectacles a crone can witness is one of these teensy birds, unaware that freedom awaits only a few feet below, bumping relentlessly at each window in succession until it expires from exhaustion. As distressing as it is for me, I suspect that it is somewhat worse for the bird.
Now it’s spring again, which means all kinds of horrible things. Oak pollen, and venomous snakes coming out of hibernation, and Eastern phoebes nesting in my carport in order to crap all over my car, and yes, the hummingbirds are back from points south, making their inevitable beeline for my dang barn. Yesterday I found the season’s first casualty dead on the floor.
Well, no more! I say. Based on last year’s detailed observations of trapped hummingbird window-bumping behavior, I have hatched a plan. This plan is predicated on the following hypothesis: if a hole is cut into the wooden gable vent at the same level as the clerestory windows against which the birds are wont to bump, they will eventually find this hole and liberate themselves. Today I am going to set in motion a series of events that will result such a hole being cut. Phase 2 of my cunning plan entails stringing up one of those red plastic feeders on a pulley positioned adjacent to the proposed gable-hole, and hoisting it up there to attract the bird to the exit.
If this doesn’t work I guess I am just doomed to suffer eternally the pangs of cosmic indifference to hummingbird life.
The logo for Dreadful Acres, if I ever get around to drawing it, will be a hummingbird with a teardrop in its eye.