Saturday, July 08, 2006

Global Warming Comes to Victoria?

Twenty-five years ago, the clothesline in back of my house outside of Victoria, B.C. would be crowded, on a typical summer evening, with about two dozen rufus and calliope hummingbirds, fighting for a space at the feeders that my family had hung around our deck. There were so many that you could fill a tablespoon full of their liquid feed, hold it at arm's length, and have two or three of the little animals hovering a few feet from your nose. At the peak of the season, it was even possible to drawn them inside the house itself in this manner. And in the fall when they migrated South, we would find their thimble-sized nests, and broken shells from their pea-sized eggs, all around the back lawn. We even had a favorite: "fatty", a male calliope that was immediately distinguishable from the others (because he was almost spherical), who came back three years running.

Unfortunately, the number of returning calliopes and and rufus hummingbirds has been much depleted recently. At first I believed this was because of more competition: almost everyone in the subby puts out a feeder or two nowadays. However, it turns out that the migration routes these birds use up and down the West Coast have been disrupted by Development, and not as many are able to successfully make the run every year.

Recently, though, we've been getting a new visitor to our feeders. This little guy:

Now, that's unfortunately the best shot I've been able to take from my digicam (he is very shy, and bolts from the feeder when he hears my camera's auto-focus). This is a better image from the web of Calypte anna or Anna's Hummingbird:

Anna's Hummingbirds do not migrate, and until very recently were confined to the milder, South coastal areas of Vancouver Island. For example, they used to be seen very occasionally around UVIC (the University of Victoria).

However (and here's the kicker), as temperatures have crept upward from the onset of Global Warming, they have been slowly extending their range in a Northerly and inland direction, until they have reached the Langford area where my parents live. They've also become more common on the island as conditions grow more suitable to the species.

For this reason, Momma Lib maintains a stock of liquid feed during the winter months to keep the little guys happy. God knows what they eat to maintain their protein requirements, as most of the flowering plants in the area still die back over that time period (when you see a humming-bird feeding from a flower, it is just as likely to be eating whatever insects call the flower home as it is drinking nectar).

In any case, tell your Conservative friends: the evidence for GW is all around them, even at their back-yard feeders

2 comments:

iggyforpresident said...

Water vapour (clouds)is responsible for 70% of 'greenhouse gas', CO2, only 4 to 8 percent, insignificant in other words.

On to more important stuff: Andy Coyne opines "Liberals' weakness is Volpe's opportunity". This is getting scary, Volpe is getting a lock on this thing, rise up you serfs and come to my aid. Rae Daze is going nowhere, foodbankguy is a loser, Hedy Fry is looking for crosses, Martha two-names??

I Iggy

bigcitylib said...

It would surely bite if Harper lost to Volpe, wouldn't it? And yet this becomes a real possibility. The Tories must be thinking they should never have left the farm.