Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Birds and the Bears

The average hummingbird weighs about four grams and will eat his body weight every hour.  During the summer of 2012 we pumped two-hundred pounds of sugar down the little gullets of the hummingbirds that buzz around the rose garden—2013 is on track to break that record.  As of last night the hummers have got competition.

I woke to find all the hummingbird feeders empty, opened or on the ground.  Hummingbirds are diurnal so it seemed unlikely that a militant band of disgruntled little buzzards were responsible for the vandalism—the hummingbird equivalent of a flash mob.  Immediately I suspected something of an ursine nature developed a sweet tooth and sucked them dry, all six.  Well, the dogs had woofed timidly in the middle of the night but we were sleeping too deeply to be bothered with investigating.  That was a mistake that could have had consequences as the sliding door was ajar and the bear was on the deck climbing over my bonsais to slurp the sugared water from the little birds’ bottles.

The magnitude of our carelessness became clear a few minutes later when I discovered the muddy paw prints on the living room window.  Not four feet from where the thieving beast leaned on the glass to lap the hummer juice from bottle number three, a window stood wide open.  Only a plastic screen stood between the bear and us.  All he had to do was swat the screen with one of those muddy paws, climb over the sill and help himself to all the sugar and anything else that struck his fancy—including us and those two intrepid watchdogs.

My fondness for bears is well known in these parts.  I never denounce them to Fish and Game and I always remain good-natured as I rake the trash that they scatter across the yard.  However, I estimate that the greedy monster must have guzzled eight cups of water containing a pound of sugar.  If hummingbirds can consume two-hundred pounds in a season, how much sugar can a three-hundred pound bear lap?  I have no intention of supporting his habit.  Furthermore, the birds are outraged.

Based on two-hundred pounds dry weight of sugar added to twelve-thousand-eight-hundred ounces of water times twenty-eight grams per ounce, and considering a four-gram hummer sucking forty-eight grams per twelve hour shift, that means that there were an average of thirty-nine birds feeding per slurping day last summer.  With the numbers apparently increasing in the current year—one-hundred and twenty-five pounds drained from Valentines Day to the end of July, less a pound for the bear—we cannot support feeding another species.  Contact me via www.ScottSkipper.com if you would like to make a sugary contribution to our misguided wildlife fund. 

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