Monday, September 19, 2011

Napoleon and Bertha

If you haven't noticed, I happen to make up names for the critters around me - whether they already HAVE names or not. For example, I named the baby Robin that I kept discovering in strange places "Waldo" as in, "Where's Waldo?". I also rarely call our dog Indy by his name, mostly I call him SmellyPants. He likes it. :)

One of my duties here on the Ranch (aside from gardening and housekeeping) is birdfeeding. I keep the feeders stocked with Wild Bird Seed, and keep the nectar in the Hummingbird Feeders fresh. This works out well because I'm a bird watcher. No - not one of those obsessive folks with crazy binoculars, but someone who enjoys watching them interact, hop around and take off in flight. They amuse me! Especially fascinating are the hummingbirds, with their tiny little bodies, loud chirps and super-speed. This summer, we had one particular hummingbird who declared himself "Dictator of the Porch and it's Feeders". Seriously - this little guy was a bully. I watched him every day - he would sit in the same spot in the same Aspen tree where he had a view of all the feeders. If another hummingbird dared to try and approach one of his feeders, he would swoop out of the tree, chirping like a maniac and chase them off. Every single time. It never failed. Once he'd accomplished his goal, he'd take a drink from his feeder and then go back to sit in his tree. Because he was so small and angry, I named him Napoleon. I can't think of a better name for a little hummingbird dictator, can you? Unfortunately, I was unable to catch Napoleon in action with my little point and shoot, although I tried my darndest. I would get the camera all primed and ready, would sit and wait, and the camera would go to sleep. Then and only then would Napoleon attack. What a little stinker! Anyhow, if you are curious about what I'm talking about (i.e. When Hummingbirds Attack), check out this montage some guy put together. Alas, the Hummingbirds all started their flight South two weeks ago, but the memory of Napoleon lives on.

Now, part of gardening is dealing with insects and spiders. There are good bugs and bad bugs, and some of the "good" bugs are ones that most of us don't like: spiders, centipedes, bees. I'm pretty sure you knew that bees are beneficial insects, based on their pollinating skills alone. That doesn't mean you don't get nervous when one chases you. The other day, I was in front of the lodge with Heidi, looking at all the perennial plants that are basically done with their season, and I saw a seriously fat bumble bee with it's butt sticking out of a Snapdragon. It was rooting around in there, happy as a clam, and I thought it was just too cute. The next day it was visiting the same plants, and I thought - hmmm.... I think I'll name it Buddha cause it's round and happy. WRONG. Yes, that little sucker is fat on pollen, but she has chased me several yards EVERY DAY for the past week because I dared to walk past her and interrupt her pollinating time. Chased. And we're not talking about a little honey bee - we're talking big, fat bumble bee - the kind that make children and adults scream in terror. No, she has not yet stung me, but has continued to give chase. And I'm telling you - I don't even stop to check her out - I just walk past and sure enough... Bee Chase! Because of her bad attitude, I decided that she couldn't be named Buddha after all. Instead, I've named her Bertha, which seems appropriate for her size and temperament. (Note - I have never actually met anyone named Bertha, and hope that I haven't inadvertently offended you with a negative use of the name!)

So there you have it - Napoleon, Bertha, Waldo and SmellyPants. All appropriately named. :)


  1. Hi Erin! Enjoying your posts as always. Just wanted to let you know that most big fat bumble bees are carpenter bees, which are very aggressive, but don't sting! So Bertha may seem cranky, but I think you don't need to worry too much.

  2. Thanks! She chased me again today - twice, so it's nice to know she might not actually sting me!