Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Nectarivore Love


The Hummingbird Cake I baked Chef for Valentine's Day was a hit.  A smash hit.  Three layers tall coated in rich cream cheese icing topped with a toasted coconut heart.  Perfection.  An Art Smith recipe, it called for six ripe bananas, crushed pineapple, chopped pecans, and coconut.  I added a teaspoon of coconut extract and almond extract to both the batter and frosting. The batter is made mostly of fruit which makes for a more nourishment than treat, at least that is what I told myself as I shoveled it into my gob.

While making this cake, which by the way you should do as soon as possible, I got to thinking about hummingbirds.  Whenever I see a hummingbird they stop me in my tracks.  I feel as if I have spotted something special, extraordinary.   A friend of ours here has a flowering bush that an endangered species of hummingbird flocks to every year.  These hummingbirds are no bigger than a large wasp.    You would mistake them for a bug if you didn't take a closer look.  That is the thing about hummingbirds, they are so fleeting in their movement that they are easy to miss, even if you are looking.  The same could be said about love I suppose.

Being that it was Valentine's Day and sex was on the mind, I began to wonder about hummingbird whoopie.  Dirty, I know.  

It turns out that fastest way to a lady hummingbird is through her stomach.  Their mating ritual begins with a male finding the most beautiful nectar rich flowers, and then he stakes his claim fighting off all other male birds until a lady bird flits into his flower patch looking for a suck.  Once she has made her entrance, and fills up on fragrant nectar, the male dances in the air pulling out all his best moves.

Then the love birds get their groove on.  Well, I don't know if you could call it a groove, more of a quickie, given that the act only lasts 3 to 5 second.  They hump each other, there is no penetration, the sperm is passed in what is called a cloacal kiss.  Leave it to a hummingbird to conceive by kissing.

Once the male has scored, he moves on back to the flower patch to prowl for more nookie....the player.  While the little mama, pragmatic, gets down to business building a nest.  This little love nest is made of grass, hair woven together with strands of spider web and is no bigger than half a golf ball. Over a period of two days, she lays two white eggs, each the size of a single baked bean.  She guards her nest from all, including the dead beat daddy.  It takes about two weeks for the little beans to incubate and then presto, two new hummingbirds are brought into the world.  Their mama feeds them nectar and tiny insects and after a month once their feathers are grown in and they are able to fly, she shoos them away.  

Hummingbirds are loners. That is why they are so hard to spot.  They only exist in North and South America and are the only bird able to fly backwards.  They have the highest metabolism of any animal and are considered nectarivores.  Aztecs would wear hummingbird talismans that were thought to draw sexual potency, energy, and vigor.  

Imagine being a nectarivore, penetrating flowers for every meal...and having to eat constantly.  Why waste time on procreation when you make love to flowers all day long?  Just something bright to think about in the final throws of winter!

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