Thursday, January 31, 2008

Urban Hummers

Urban hummers

Living in downtown San Francisco an environment of bricks, concrete and asphalt one would not expect hummingbirds, bulleting fiercely through those manmade gorges up into the steel blue sky. Impressed by these little daredevils we decided to get a feeder maybe they show up at our house too.
My wife and I went to Brownies our local hardware store to see if they had feeders for the hummers. They did and we got one. We attached it on the ladder of the fire escape right in front of our living room window and waited and we waited.
We remained looking for them for three or four weeks until the first one showed up. We got a book on North American hummers, to find out what kind of Kolibris are visiting the feeder. Hmm, it wasn’t that easy and still we don’t know for sure, but we think it must be Anna’s. First they showed up kind of reluctantly, but once they new the feeder was reliable they came and are still coming. By now, especially when the weather is rough and rainy, we get a lot of traffic. I compare it to the German Autobahn, where people drive quite offensive as if they would be on a race track, assuming their are no speed limitations. Well, the airspace in front of our window has no limitations they speed up as much as they are capable of, they fight each other, chase each other, they flash, chip and shit ferociously defending the precious food source. It’s a thrill to watch those tiny tough guys fighting, feeding, humming and perching. What an uplifting experience to have them around in the urban jungle.


I recently got to see Louis Malle's 1968 documentary on Calcutta. This film is a side product of his documentary phantom india, a timeless masterpiece about our human species caught in an endless cycle of life and death. Watching it brought all those memories back, when I was traveling in India in the mid-eighties, always having this weird sensation as if death would grab my shoulders everywhere I went in a country of most extreme contrasts.