Lessons Learned From Nature

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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Sometimes it is just good fun to send in a blog about my unprofessional observations made while working outdoors in our remote mountain area. Thoughts that others processing through their hectic day may not think about or even care about. Things which I have learned from observing wildlife and the birds and insects sharing our small homestead with us. It is sometimes fun to then compare them to our human behavior. While most of my blogs are informative or experience driven there are also simple observations that seem worth passing along for others to ponder if they choose to do so.

For the past several years we have had a family of flycatcher birds nest in the exact same area under our deck. That is also where the tractor is parked so I am under there with the tractor often and get to watch the mother bird sitting on the nest to hatch the eggs. She has become accustomed to my going and coming and stays on the nest even when I am present. Next I see the tiny birds in the nest totally helpless being fed by their parents. They spend nearly the entire day catching insects to feed to the young hatchlings. Then the little birds slowly grow feathers and can hold their heads up with wide mouths open to receive food. Finally when I see the baby birds exercise their wings in the nest I know they are about ready to find their own freedom in the bird world. Then the nest is empty which they don’t return to. Last year one baby bird was reluctant to leave the nest. The parents stopped feeding it which was inspiration to fly away.

We humans have developed a new term called boomerang kids. They leave home only to come back to live with us parents again. The baby birds have no expectations from their parents other than to be independent and fly freely. After they leave the nest the parents even give them instruction on how to catch their own food and then they are on their own to experience their freedom and live freely as productive little birds. They are also on their own to survive or fail because the parents have cared for them and started them on their way and it is now up to the baby bird. In no way am I remotely suggesting that children as adults shouldn’t come back home to live occasionally. Not all young adults mature at the same rate and often it is better to err on the safe side of life. It seems to me however that the parent birds have it down pretty well and equip their babies and then turn them loose.

Then there are the multiple hummingbirds that come to our two feeders. We have two species that spend the summer at our home  which are Broadtail and Rufus species. The male rufus  hummingbirds are defensive of the feeders and chase the other hummingbirds away. We noted how one Broadtail will lure the Rufus away by being chased a considerable distance and the others will then zoom in for some quick nectar before the rufus can come back. The one hummingbird bullies the others driving them away  also seems to parallel some adults and children who like to get by through bullying. The hummingbird flies around frantically trying to drive other hummingbirds away from feeding at “its feeder and its territory ” but in the long run only tires itself out and is generally outsmarted and all the other birds which are on the other side of the house tanking up without harassment.

As I work around our property and observe these birds/animals/insects I can see how they relate to certain  aspects of human behavior. I find it quite amusing and note that while we are totally different species we do share some similarities. I often wonder if we really are smarter than the small hummingbird. When I read that hummingbirds which weigh less than 0.7  of an ounce, can remember each flower in their territory and after feeding how long it then takes that flower to refill with nectar. They remember year to year each location of each feeder. They remember specific feeding locations along a migration route. They accurately fly that migration route each year without benefit of a map or GPS sophistication. All very remarkable considering I usually can’t remember where I left my keys and have to rely on maps to get around. Then I ponder what if we humans could remember like the hummingbird and how remarkable we would be with that ability..

Just some random thoughts that flit through my mind as I work outside where I can see and observe nature every day. I thought it worthy to share with readers so maybe next time a hummingbird or flycatcher is observed there will be a new sense of appreciation regarding them and how remarkable they really are.

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their mountain lifestyle go toMcElmurray’s Mountain Retreat.

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