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Opinion >  Column

Doug Clark: Nesting hummingbird is a tiny terror threatening summer bliss

A hummingbird heads for home after flying around Doug Clark’s backyard on Wednesday. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
A hummingbird heads for home after flying around Doug Clark’s backyard on Wednesday. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

I’ve been quite candid over the years regarding my many losing battles with what scientists call The Critter Kingdom.

Swarms of lewd box elder bugs copulating all over my front porch like college kids on spring break. Volkswagen-sized turkeys using my front yard as their personal crapper. Woodpeckers boring unwanted skylights into the side of my home. Ant armies launching invasions into my den. The suicidal 1,100-pound galloping moose that rendered my new Toyota truck into scrap metal …

It’s as if Mother Nature stuck a giant “Bite Me” sign on my ample backside.

Yet as bad as it’s been, I never dreamed that one day the hummingbirds, too, would turn against me.

Hummingbirds – those sweet microbirds that flit so gracefully amongst the flowers.

Yeah, right. The birds that have set up housekeeping on the patio outside my bedroom are about as innocuous as that hubcap-sized spider that crawled over a dozing James Bond in “Dr. No.”

“Ahhhh!!! It’s trying to get me. Ahhhhh!!!”

If I outlive Elvis, I’ll never forget the sound of my lovely wife, Sherry, being dive-bombed and terrorized by the Hummingbird from Hell.

It started last Saturday with a simple mission to clean the hot tub.

Three steps out the sliding door, however, an aerial creature was on Sherry, swooping and twirling like a World War I biplane over France.

Hearing her cries for help, I bravely stayed put far back in the bedroom, you know, in case I had to run for help.

“Good luck, honey!!”

I watched the odd dance between hummingbird and human until, finally, Sherry made it back inside to safety.

I wanted to call 911 or at least the National Guard.

Honestly, I hadn’t seen an attack that traumatic since Jake, the neighbor’s Labrador, bit me in the crotch for no reason when I was about 13.

Ever the academic, Sherry thought we should first glean some information off the internet.

This quest soon had us learning about Rufous hummingbirds.

Or as one wildlife website put it: “the feistiest hummingbird in North America.”

“Sounds about half-right,” I told Sherry. “That thing out there thinks it’s a pit bull.”

I’m no ornithologist, of course.

Heck, I’m barely Presbyterian. So don’t look to me for answers.

By now, a dozen or so know-it-all bird experts have examined the excellent photo snapped by my pal and co-worker, Dan Pelle, and immediately identified the hummingbird species.

Please, don’t call.

I don’t really care if the bird is a rare, green-crested schlemiel.

The point is that this ornery 2-inch feathered fiend is holding us hostage from our hot tub and patio.

Yes. It’s sitting on a nest. I know.

For no logical reason, the hummingbird built its birthing room on a coil of rope that dangles directly above the slider to our bedroom.

So whenever we go out, hummingbirds (I think there’s also a male avian accomplice) turn more pugnacious than that North Korean twerp of a dictator.

Now, in a more callous age when men spit tobacco and grew sorghum and such, an intrusive hummingbird might have been dispatched by a flyswatter or a shotgun.

But today? Not hardly.

I’ve seen too many Disney movies, like where the chirping cartoon birdies fly joyfully around Snow White.

There’s no way I’d bring harm to a tiny nesting bird.

Not unless I was hungry, anyway.

The only other option I could think of was to call my longtime friend, Madonna Luers.

Luers handles public information for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. I knew she’d have some expert advice.

“Oh, God,” she said, between laughs. “Only you would be terrorized by hummingbirds.”

She agreed the Rufous was a likely suspect.

“They have no concept of their size,” she added. “Like some little dogs.”

I mentioned this diminutive editor I’d had years ago who was a lot like that, too.

“But what do I do?” I asked, getting back to hummingbirds.

“We advise you to lay low,” said Luers, speaking on behalf of the department of wildlife. “Stay indoors, Doug. The outdoors is too much for you.”

Damn. It’s gonna be a long hot-tubless summer.

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