Chapter 6 - Buzz Hummingbird
Buzz Hummingbird was born in a nest about the size of a thimble. A large thimble, granted, but a thimble nonetheless.
The nest was tucked under the eaves of the house in the Yard, and it was lined with soft white quail down. Buzz first opened his tiny eyes to the sight of the low roof overhead. Some time later, his tiny sister was born, and the two of them were crowded together in the tiny nest. His mother fed them, and their appetites were considerable. Poor mom, she worked and worked and dad just left all the work to her. He didn’t see the sky until much later, when his parents, Hugh and Heather Hummingbird, first let him climb out of the nest and take his first flight. His sister had to stay behind and wait her turn for flight.
And what a flight it was.
He launched himself away from the nest, just like his parents had instructed. And flew directly into the small orange tree near Rollie’s burrow.
Whoosh! Whoomp! And into the leafy safety net of the tree. He knew how to flap his tiny wings like in that poem about the revolving wheel his mother had recited to him when he was little, but he had yet to master the niceties of direction. Speed, even from the very first, was never his problem. In fact, he flew so fast that he would often run into things. More than once he suffered a bent beak and a bruised ego.
But after a time, he learned that if he was going to run into anything, he should make sure it was something soft enough not to bend or break his beak. The hover was the hardest thing to learn. At first he would approach a flower, hover, and then bounce slowly up and down. Each time he would try to put his beak into the flower to extract the juicy juice therein, he would bounce up or down, missing the flower’s opening. Very exasperating. His parents would watch him and shake their heads. He was born as Hubert, but his parents nicknamed him Buzz because of his careless and often dangerous speed. Buzz was more than happy not to have to support the burden of a name like Hubert. He was no Hubert. He was a Buzz.
Once, when he was one year old, he discovered a feeder in the yard to the north. But there was an old bully of a bird guarding this treasure. Old Bully Boy would sit on a nearby branch and drive away any intruding hummingbirds. Buzz decided to take up the challenge. He sped past the feeder and Bully Boy took out after him. But Buzz was so much faster that he simply flew circles around his combatant. Faster and faster, around and around and around. Bully Boy would peck at the spot he thought Buzz would be, but Buzz was already gone. Bully Boy finally flew off in a stumbling zigzag course, so dizzy he could hardly stay airborne. And the feeder became Buzz’s own. He, however, was not as selfish as old Bully Boy, and he allowed other hummers from the Arbor to sip at his station. Bully Boy returned several days later and tried to retake his territory, but Buzz flashed around him in nearly invisible circles, the sound of his wings a high whir to the dizzy Bully Boy. And off he flew again, again nearly colliding with several trees in his hasty retreat. Buzz never saw his opponent again.
Another time, Red Hawk came swooping through the Arbor, looking for an unaware rabbit or a tasty quail for his dinner. Red was a Harris Hawk, and a handsome bird indeed, with heavy body and white breast, dark brown or auburn back and wing feathers. But frightfully dangerous to the unwary. Normally he would hunt with one or more of his brethren, but this time he was alone. Buzz saw the shadow before he saw the hawk. He knew what Red was looking for and he wasn’t about to let anything tragic happen to any of his friends. He intercepted the hawk in mid-flight, zipped past him and gave him a little peck on the head, then again and again and again. These pecks were annoying, not lethal, and Red would squeal each time and flap a wing in disgust at this insect-sized bother. He let out a loud screech of frustration, and Buzz sped by with another peck on the head. Red’s plan to find a dinner was successfully foiled. There would be easier yards to invade, Red thought. Someday, maybe, he would pay his respects again, looking specifically for a tiny patch of flying green and scarlet. Not much of a meal, but then revenge would be sweet even though not very filling.
Buzz first met Rollie when they were both still weeuns. Even then, Buzz knew he was looking at a rabbit out of the ordinary. Rollie had a certain glow of intelligence in his eyes and Buzz took him as his friend right away. Rollie could also recognize Buzz’s extraordinary talent, his blinding speed. They became friends and had been now for several years. He decided to find Rollie and ask him more about his plan for going on an expedition. Maybe there really was some better place out there, and he and his friend would never know if they didn’t go.