My enemy: the buzz of the bird

A male Rufous hummingbird sips a quick snack at a local hummingbird feeder in May.

The yellow house. It was beautiful. Way out Rink Creek in Gustavus. As if Gustavus isn’t small enough as is, I lived seven miles outside the center of town. In the winters we were isolated down the long dirt road.


We didn’t have neighbors for miles and the woods surrounding the old house were dense.

Cell phones and Internet were unheard of in our house. The solitude was sometimes crippling, even with my boyfriend Doug around, but during our brief summertime sunshine, the yellow house came alive.

That’s when I encountered the hummingbirds. I had planted flowers and strawberries around our old, wooden wrap-around porch and Doug wove a hammock to swing on with the hummingbirds and butterflies.

I loved those hummingbirds at first and hung feeders around the porch so they could buzz outside the window as I washed blueberries in the kitchen sink. Every morning I made a special mixture of sugar water for the little buzzers and they curiously began to grow in numbers, feeding from the little red plastic flowers.

Soon they stopped buzzing quite as fervently. Just sat around on the flowers, hanging out, sipping nectar until sunset. I became annoyed with the swarm of swelling bird bellies poking around my windowsill. They were so gluttonous.

They barely even hummed anymore.

One day, I didn’t fill the feeders.

The hummers began to slowly approach the yellow house, looking for their fix. It didn’t take them long to find the sticky sweetness was gone.

Some of them flew off in haughty protest. Others buzzed with intensity at the windows. Watching me. I made Doug put up some curtains.

Still, they buzzed.

I could hear them all day. I could see their tiny shadows.

A week later, while reading a book in the still afternoon, I heard a tapping.


When I approached the window and drew back the curtain, they were there. They were tapping. Their needlelike beaks scratched the glass, so close to my nose that I could see the beautiful color in their feathers, the rage in their beady eyes.

They wanted more nectar.

Perhaps I had added too much sugar?

Doug was across town working at the local café and I was alone.

I snatched the curtains shut.

Soon, I could hear them buzzing the windows in the living room, tapping on the door. Hurling their bodies at the door.

I was surrounded.

Doug was Native, tall and strong. When he got home from work that night in our tiny blue fiesta (the clown car), he was amused to find me curled in the corner. Hiding from the tiny tweakers outside. I told him desperately of my plight, that I had been trapped inside all day.

“Please, fill up their feeders!” I pleaded.

Anything to make them leave.

“Just give them what they want!” I cried.

Doug rolled his eyes and snatched the gallon of nectar from the counter.

“You’re ridiculous,” he said.

I watched in fear as he parted the curtains and opened the window, theatrically cautious. I watched as he poked his blue-capped head out into the evening air. The hummers were gone.

Doug laughed and began to unscrew the bottom of the feeder, leaning farther and farther out the window.

Suddenly they flew at him full speed like tiny fighter planes, bombing the enemy. He screamed and dropped the nectar. They had attacked with such ferocity, his hat was knocked clean off.

His dark hair was mussed and wild.

He stared at me with frenzied eyes. This time, I laughed.

He didn’t know what to say.

• Contact reporter Stephanie Shor at 523-2279 or at


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