Monday, June 7, 2010

Window to the world

I suppose giving Derick William Dalton a soapbox for his biased version of that last story won't hurt anything. As if we'd believe him.

In the meantime, I've been running loose in his house. The freedom is nice and the exploration is invigorating. The kitchen door has glass running nearly it's full height, so it's a great place for me to sit and enjoy the outdoors without subjecting myself to natural selection. Not that I'm against it, even though it is why I'm twelve centimeters instead of twelve meters long, and am forced to eat worms and leftover salad and patter through the house instead of eating trees and mammals while tromping through the forest making the ground shake. Natural selection is a great idea for populations, but it doesn't interest me personally. Have I grown soft in my domestication? Don't have what it takes to survive and reproduce in the wild? No, but how to explain it... I suppose if natural selection were a religion, I would be an unrepentant sinner. If it were a genre of art, I would be the avant garde. French Foreign Legion, I'm AWOL.

But mostly I'm at the window to watch the hummingbirds. Talk about natural selection. I can't tell if their behavior is from an inferiority complex over their size, or if they just like being small and zippy, with nothing to prove to anyone. Except to reptiles of course, but they fell off our wagon millions of years ago.

DWD put the feeders up on purpose as he likes the twittering and buzzing and iridescence. It was annoying at first. And I have to admit, as hard as that is to do, I was jealous as they hovered and moved faster than I could keep track. Luckily, my shell protects my psyche as well as internal organs. I get bitten, I laugh. Fragile little hummingbirds get one mistake. Ever.

I couldn't make out the twittering, so I started making up dialogue as I watched them eat.

“Then he says (slurp slurp) 'Let's hang out. (slurp slurp) I'll show you a flowering elderberry bush I found.' (slurp slurpee slurp)”

“Oh (sipsipsip) honey, (sipsipsip) that's so romantic! (sipsipsip) What did you (sipsipsip) do (sipsipsip) after?”

“Nothing (slurp slurp). Didn't go at all (slurp slurp). My ex came zooming out of a tree (slurp slurp) and it was a who's-beak-is-longest contest (slurp slurp) after that. They both forgot all about me (slururururp).

Which makes me wonder why they don't help each other out more. The females seem to get along, several drinking at the same time. But then a male chases them all off and spends more time watching his back than drinking himself. Two males never bond at the watering hole. They could learn a bit from the humans that way, but then they might have a harder time with the reproductive part of natural selection. Instead, it's action sequence aerial dogfights nearly all day. That part kept me interested until I got motion sickness.

Unless it's all a game. The males don't have to produce eggs, so maybe they aren't under the same calorie demands. The females want genes for their young from a guy who looks like he'll never make a mistake, so the males could spend all their time chasing each other around and the one who doesn't starve gets all the action. Maybe the females like getting chased. It burns off their energy so they can eat more. Perhaps the males pretend to chase each other around when the females are looking to impress them. Maybe they find a lookalike and one eats while the other flirts, then they switch off and split the rewards. Or maybe they switch off then, too.

Either way, there are about a dozen of them out there flying around like they haven't a care in the world, and the more I watch the more I get depressed. Maybe my shell's not as thick as I supposed. I'll outlast them like I did the rats, but that doesn't make me feel any better just now. But the forecast of four days of heavy rain does. Fly around in that, hummingbirds.

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