Saturday, August 1, 2009


I can handle having an e-mail ignored but it's tough when your neighborhood hummingbirds reject your feeder. I was scrubbing it and replacing the sugar water when a friend remarked that all my attention to the tiny birds was counter-intuitive.

He explained that my red plastic flower look-alike was destorying the birds natural survival instincts. I was stopped in my tracks. One more time I did it all wrong.

As an urban creature I have long been two with Nature. I can't even recall being attached to stuffed animals. My idea of camping is to go to a motel and sleep with the windows open. I couldn't tell dog poop from bear droppings. But I digress.

The subject is counter-intuition. By "intuition" I mean common sense or a hunch; an opinion based on scraps of information often indistinguishable from a wish. The "counter" must therefore mean that which contradicts the gut feeling which itself could be oppositional to received wisdom. Already I'm getting a brain ache.

Thus with 4th down and inches the quarterback goes for the bomb. Ah ha,the element of surprise. The manager pulls his clean-up hitter and sends in the guy at the end of the bench to pinch hit. Maybe it's nothing more than the triumph of the unexpected; going by the seat of your pants rather than by statisical analysis.

In the case of the beloved hummingbird who works so hard just to stay still isn't my friend simply weighing in with new information? And all for the ultimate well-being of the fluttering wings. So why call it "counter" anything?

Maybe the counter-intuitive is yet another phrase to describe the innovator, one who sees around the corner; who picks up whiffs of tomorrow's news. The Swiss who had 80%of the watch market at one time lost it to the Japanese who took the transitor and ran with it. Five years ago we would have called that kind of vision,"intuitive" and let it go at that.

1 comment:

  1. I really dislike disagreeing with other experts as much as doctors who wont step on other doctor’s toes but fear not dear friend, your hummer summoner will not destroy his natural survival instincts. They are far too clever and know the difference between sugar water and nectar.

    My question however is this, why do you have a feeder? Surely not to take pictures because your state of the art Canon is still nestled sweetly in the box it arrived in. So why. Are you a voyeur who just likes to watch or do you worry they won’t get enough nourishment without your ministrations?

    By the way did you know that hummingbirds don’t really hum and it isn’t because they don’t know the words. They make a repeated chip "Chitter, chitter, chitter.sound. The males go ""tiputi, tiputi," when they want to protect their territory from other males

    In any event stop worrying and keep your feeder. They have to feed every ten minutes every day and consume 2/3 of their body weight in a single day. Even i couldn’t do that before my diet.