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FROM READERS: Hot hummingbirds

Monday, August 6, 2012 | 4:55 p.m. CDT
A hummingbird was spotted taking a drink out of a feeder at Columbia Missourian reader John Hall's home.

John Hall frequently photographs his mid-Missouri surroundings, and he has been sharing his images with the Missourian for several years.

Over the course of the summer, only two hummingbirds were spotted at the feeding stations. Late last week, my wife and I thought we saw three. Those three soon had another guest, and in a matter of hours the number had climbed to about a dozen. So, more sugar was purchased, and the feeding frenzy has now reached a summer high, just like the thermometer.

Watching the hummingbirds feed, I noticed one Ruby-throated species sitting on the feeder and wouldn't leave. When I first noticed the beak of the creature, I thought a blade of grass was stuck to it. I attempted to photograph it and saw what first appeared to be a dipper-like ending on the tongue, and at other times it appeared to be a growth of some kind. Whatever it was, the tongue (or whatever it's called on a hummingbird) never retracted, and the poor thing seemed to be not all that happy about it.

When I looked out the next morning there was "old long tongue" back, and there was no retraction during that hummingbird-watching session. This may be a common thing among hummingbirds, but I have never witnessed it in all the time I've observed them. I guess it could be that the hummingbird doesn't like me and was showing its displeasure with me.

Any other photos I could have taken would have been dominated by the color of brown. Therefore, the number of photos taken in the last month are at about the same level as the number of miles put on my truck. Last week, I drove twelve miles and didn't take that many more photos. But, that may all be about to change. Over the weekend, I had a note from Nikon that the canoe from Japan had arrived, and with it was the new shutter for my long-ailing camera. The camera surgeon passed word to the nursing station that the camera would be on its way, by a slow ambulance (UPS ground), this week. I've had use of a loaner camera for over a month but didn't want to use it up like I've done a couple dozen other cameras in my life, and most of those in the last decade.

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