It was inevitable. You knew it, I knew it. I spent a day pretending I didn’t know it and actually thought I was being an adult when I decided against going on another five-hour round-trip to the same place to try again for the Rufous Hummingbird. The inner birder-child won out last Friday, though, as I found myself checking to see if I had any unused comp hours at work to be able to get off early enough to get down to Le Sueur before the RUHU went to bed. Friends at work continue to be enablers for this birding disease of mine as they agreed to cover my last two classes of the day. With the extra time, I was able to pick up both kids, take care of the dogs, and hit the road with the sun still high in the sky. We even stopped to pick up Melissa for yet another family-style bird adventure.
So what could cause all the angst? What could be worth the fast-paced, high-stress hassle? What could cause me to stop licking my wounds and go back for potentially more pain? This.
We had to wait nearly 20 minutes for our first glimpse of the bird when it made a brief appearance at the feeder. It was not very active on this day and would disappear for another 15-20 minutes before our next sighting. It was no small thrill to be waiting alongside a couple of Minnesota birding legends, Bob Janssen and Dave Cahlander. I’ve got Bob’s Birds in Minnesota book and am looking forward to his upcoming book on birds of Minnesota State Parks. This was a second author sighting in as many months; I’m going to have to start carting around Evan’s bird book library for autographs.
So, Evan got his lifer RUHU, and I got my MN RUHU. Pretty sweet deal all around. Another interesting aside is that Evan is working on some electives in Cub Scouts to earn some patches for his uniform. Several of them involve birdwatching; one in particular was keeping a week-long list of species he had seen. When he started the list, we couldn’t have imagined in our wildest dreams he would be writing down Rufous Hummingbird.
It was nice of the sun and the bird to cooperate for a brief moment to give me a shot of RUHU’s beautiful gorget.
Though we did not get to see the Rufous chase away any Ruby-throats from the feeder he plundered and pillaged, it was clear that no RTHU dared to challenge RUHU, the Red-bearded Pirate-bird. He was a fireball in every sense of the word.
After enjoying a couple more brief sightings, we headed to Mankato so Evan could stop at a Barnes and Noble to pick up his next book in a series he’s reading. It was just our luck to visit on International Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19th). The kids enjoyed listening to a store employee all decked out in piratewear read a pirate story in a pirate voice. It was topped off with a treasure hunt around the store. No fewer than three adults chortled/gaffawed/giggled when the pirate asked the kids if they wanted to look for her booty.
Since I have many teacher friends who visit this blog, I would be remiss to not mention that Barnes and Noble offers an educator discount. My astute wife had the presence of mind to ask about it. When I learned the discount was a hefty 20%, I hustled on back to the bird section and bought my first Sibley’s. I think I’m a real birder now.
So avast me mates and get ye to the B ‘n N fer some real book treasure to fill the bowels of yer ship! And if ye should see Red-beard, the pirate-bird, raise yer glass of grog to his pirattitude and toss ‘er back in celebration!