Hummingbird atop Tikaboo

Message posted by JB737 on September 21, 2007 at 17:42:10 PST:

A few weeks ago I remembered the most bizarre thing that happened when I was on Tikaboo.

Very soon after I started my descent, probably only 20-30 vertical feet below the peak, a hummingbird suddenly appeared from behind a juniper(?) below me and to my right. It came zipping up straight at my face, stopping what seemed like no more than 6 inches short of hitting me between the eyes, although now when I measure to where my impression of it was, it was probably more like 10-15 inches from my eyeballs. I say impression, because I didn't ever get well focused on it, partly due to instinctively trying to bob my head away from it (unsuccessfully: the thing was more agile than me!) and partly due to needing reading glasses at that distance!

It hovered there for about 0.5 seconds and left as quickly as it arrived. To say I was shocked is an understatement, and the humming sounds of its wings was impressive at such close range. I've been around a lot of wildlife, including having hummingbirds in my yard in most places I've lived from infancy to present. Nothing bigger than an insect has ever gotten so quickly "in my face" in my whole life, nor has a hummingbird ever intentionally approached me before, much less to such close range.

I recently checked my mother's bird books, and it seems there are 2 or 3 kinds of hummingbirds whose range might include the general vicinity of Tikaboo (hard to say exactly from the national scale of the maps, so anything found at Pahranagat Lake cannot be distinguished from Tikaboo).

1. Has anyone else run across a hummingbird while climbing out there?

2. What is the service ceiling of a hummingbird for hovering on a hot day? This was about 8:35am on June 30th, already getting quite hot. I assume the little guy was near 100% power and may not have been able to hold a hover for very long at 7885 ft altitude and undoubtedly higher density & oxygen altitudes.

3. Do you suppose it had found a water source high up, or just got some moisture from juniper berries, etc? A bird that small and energetic must dehydrate very quickly in desert conditions. Maybe it was looking to peck my eyes out for moisture? :-)

Very Surprised,



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