Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hummingbirds and light sabers

Some time ago I read somewhere -- must have been on the 'net -- that Steven Spielberg got the idea for that humming whoosh of the light saber in the Star Wars series from the sound of hummingbirds darting and hovering in the air.  But when I tried to check that out, I found little supporting information -- and a denial from someone who served as a sound engineer for Star Wars and who said that sound came from the hum of electronic equipment. So I dunno.

But if the hummingbirds at your place are anything like the hummingbirds up here, moviemakers could have gotten not only the sound of the light saber from hummingbirds flying around, but also the tactics and in-flight gymnastics of the tie fighters from these little rockets blasting around our deck fighting one another off in an effort to dominate one of our feeders.  One of the feeders is at one end of a 40-foot deck and the other is just off the deck, and sometimes it seems they're reenacting the Battle of Britain over our heads.  There's a ruby-throated hummingbird (ok, probably half a dozen of them, but it seems I only see one at a time) that I think of as the Red Baron (I know, wrong war for the Battle of Britain, but I'm writing this story) flying about at breakneck  speeds chasing off competitors.

 We've gone through about eight pounds of sugar in the last couple of months trying to keep these things fed. I've also tried to keep up with the birds when they've been called out for a sortie.  Good thing the cameras has one of those multiple-shot gizmos on it.  You just can't shoot enough stuff in single shot mode when the birds fly in and out of the frame.  But I won't be surprised if I find one of them wearing a little white silk scarf and goggles, like something out of Dawn Patrol.

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