[Tweeters] A morning of close encounters

Rob Sandelin nwnature1 at gmail.com
Wed May 15 12:04:45 PDT 2013

My favorite place in the garden is a log bench under the trellis near the
feeder. The morning sun hits there first, and the columbine are blooming.
This morning I sat with coffee in hand and watched the bumblebees as they
cheated the columbine by chewing through the tops of the flower tubes to get
to the nectar. I felt a slight tickle on my bare foot and I glanced down and
found a baby deer mouse had crawled up and was cuddling my foot for warmth.
The little guy fell asleep and I went back to bee watching. Several minutes
later a Steller's Jay landed on a vine close by, then apparently decided to
go after the mouse at my foot, via landing on my knee. As it flew at me I
involuntarily jerked my hand up and the jay swerved and left screaming
insults at the dirty trick. The mouse was no where to be seen. A bit
later, a female Rufus hummingbird flew up to a red columbine near my arm. I
could feel the air being pushed from her wings as she hovered. To my
surprise it came in pulses, like a fast heartbeat.

The best encounter was a chestnut-backed chickadee who flew up in front of
me, landed on a grape vine and after closely peering at me, flew past me. I
stood statue still and to my delight I felt a slight weight on my hoodie,
and then on my head. It was odd feeling the little feet on my head and then
the bird tried to pull out some hair. I did not move and it gave a few
experimental pecks to my head, bounced down to my arm and then hopped over
to the rim of my coffee cup. The little bird peered in and seemed to want a
taste of this brown water but the level was too low and I suspect the cup
size was too small to fly into. The image of a chickadee on caffeine brought
out an involuntary chuckle and this ended the encounter.

A lovely day to sit around and do..."nothing"

Rob Sandelin

Naturalist, Writer, Teacher

Snohomish County

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