Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/613

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THE HUMMING BIRDS OF CHOCORUA.

As the season of 1893 wore on, the number of humming birds at this orchard diminished. Late in July I saw as many as five birds near the trees at one moment, three of them being regular attendants and two interlopers. During the next four weeks I was absent, but on my return I found that only the female using the eastern tree remained, and that she was seldom annoyed by visitors. The trees which had been used by the other two birds had run dry, and the sapsuckers as well as their uninvited guests had abandoned them. Of the identity of the remaining humming bird there could be no question; her ways were too strongly marked to be mistaken, as, for example, her invariable habit of alighting upon one slightly sloping trunk when she drank from its drills. When September drew near I watched closely to ascertain the date of the little lady's departure, but day after day came and went without my missing her. At last, on September 1st, it seemed to me that she had gone. I had waited ten or fifteen minutes by the trees and she had not come, though the sapsuckers were busy at the drills in their accustomed places. Before finally giving her up I thought that I would count a hundred slowly and see if this form of incantation might not draw her to her trees. When I reached "ninety-nine" and no bird came, I concluded that the exact date of her migration had been found, but as I said "one hundred" there was a faint hum in the still air, and the dainty dipper appeared with her usual sprightliness. On the 6th, after several light frosts had laid their chilly touch upon the Chocorua country, I felt confident that the tiny creature must have sought a kinder climate. Again, however, she surprised me by appearing, after a long delay, as bright as ever. She hummed at her regular drinking places, but seemed to find little moisture in the wasting fountains. The trees were losing vitality and becoming dry. Then she sought the dead twigs at the tops of last year's trees and flitted back and forth among them, sunning herself. No perch pleased her long, and when she wearied of them all she darted back to the drills for a brief perfunctory sip of the slow-moving sap. Her restlessness seemed born of the season, and a symptom of that fever of migration which was making all bird life throb more and more quickly.

Although on September 25th, when I made my last visit of the year to the orchard, I found two sapsuckers still at work at the drills, no humming bird was with them. How long after the 6th the vigorous little female remained I do not know, for I was unable to watch the trees during the middle of the month.

Although at Chocorua I never have found a sapsuckers' orchard without its attendant humming birds, I am by no means sure that in other localities where both birds occur the same interesting community of interests is to be detected. During a brief