Art & Culture

The Hummingbirds of San Juan Bautista

Feature piece by San Juan resident, Don Rookaird, on his hobby . . . and obsession

The Mission was founded here, back 217 years ago. Hummingbirds greeted the building of the church with chirps and flitting, feathery beauty in motion, cheering the spirit of the Native Americans who made the adobe bricks under the summer sun. Their iridescent colors, brighter than any Spanish fabric, more vibrant than silk from China, had flown in this valley for centuries before man's version of civilization arrived and, undaunted, they still play in the trees and the sky around us today.

 

Four years ago I set out my first hummingbird feeder,

a gift from my brother in Seattle.

Within five minutes, a very busy Anna's Hummingbird sat down for a drink.

He was my first customer.

His name was Troy.

I run the Hummingbird Happy Hour,

a watering hole on my deck,

which welcomes hummingbirds from up and down the coast,

the regulars and the tourists.

I'm open all year. 

If I was around in 1849,

sitting with the survivors of the Donner Party, 

hummingbirds would have been there at happy hour

and I would have been hard pressed to buy a pound of sugar

to make the nectar required to establish a decent bird bar. 

It's not much better today.

I buy sugar in fifty pound sacks.

What can I do?

it's breeding season. 

The girls are building nests . . .

and the guys? 

They drink like fish.  

Capt. Don

Reader, writer, character actor, humming birder and landlubber. USCG ocean master. Riverboats, Vietnam '68-'69, San Jose State.