Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cruel Nature

One recent evening, we witnessed something a little more serious that the typical hummingbird fight.  Although we have two feeders, and various hummingbird-type plants in our garden, the birds will defend their chosen territory quite aggressively.  Usually this involves an acrobatic sort of dive-bombing but no actual contact.  This was different.

Photo: Tom Barrow

This little bird was apparently resting at the feeder, unwilling to fly off.  Another hummingbird repeatedly pecked at his head.  Between strikes, the little victim appeared to pant: his beak was open and his tongue popped in and out.  He was missing a large chunk of feathers on his back, though you can't quite make it out in the picture.  We've watched birds for long enough -- we know that it's usually best to let Nature take its course.  This, however, was just too much.  We shooed away the aggressor until the little wounded one was able to fly away.

The Gulf Coast Bird Observatory is hosting its Xtreme Hummingbird Xtravaganza on Saturday,  September 11 and Saturday, September 18.  Find out more here.  And here's a good link for Houston-area hummingbirds.


  1. I felt bad for the little bird, but am glad you saved a life. Gave you 3 picks for that.

  2. Nature seems cruel to us, but there's always a balance, I suppose. In this case, I'd have done the same thing. After all, the birds were guests at your table, right? And the aggressive bird displayed very poor manners. So there...there's your reasoning for "interfereing" with nature! :)

  3. My son recently witnessed a hummingbird attack that resulted in one bird losing its eye! Those long pointy beaks apparently can be quite dangerous.