December 30, 2003
We had a hard freeze two nights ago and last night. The first in a few years, and according to the weather service, the coldest since the nineteen-seventies (it got down to 19 one night!). We covered all the plants and the only things that froze were the cape honeysuckle against the wall, which are all brown and shriveled now—just after they had bloomed, alas.
I got up at dawn to make sure the hummers had at least a couple of unfrozen sources of nectar. They were out there and flying around before I even got outside, and it was really cold. They were all very active all day. Mid-afternoon my cats went nuts when one hummer drove another into the glass door of the patio. The injured hummer lay unmoving on the cold bricks, and I ran outside to see if I could revive it, as I have done in the past (by offering some sugar water). As I got closer I was pretty sure it was dead, and remembered that I am supposed to bag and freeze dead hummers for study by the University of Arizona. The cats watched in great excitement from inside the glass while I bent down to pick up the bird’s body—but before I could touch it, it revived and flew away, brushing my hand with its soft feathers as it did.
It’s warmer today, though still cold. As I look outside the window a small herd of quail are foraging under the tangelo tree and in the garden. Two males, three females. I’m trying to figure out if there’s any dominance ranking between the boys, but so far haven’t seen any indications.