Thursday, May 27, 2010

Nature Notes: Little Bird and Big Trouble

When the hummingbirds returned this year, they announced themselves by hovering outside the kitchen window and peering in, looking for the feeder that hung there last summer. What a marvel that they find their way back from the far south, not just to Indiana but to this exact window.

I wasted no time putting up the feeder, and they have been buzzing in and darting away happily ever since - until one day, when I noticed this little guy.

He just sat there on the feeder, unmoving, feathers puffed up, breathing hard. It was chilly, but other hummers were flying. They perched on the other side of the feeder, sipped a bit, and lingered a few seconds to consider their sickly friend. Maybe keeping him company. He did not stir when I took a close look at him, returning my gaze without any sign of alarm.

Twenty minutes later, he was still there. He clearly needed help from somebody who knew what they were doing, so I started looking for a rehabber.

I tried the Audubon Society, the Humane Society, the zoo, the botanical garden; I called the numbers they gave me. Of the few who picked up, nobody took hummers. I searched the web for avian vets, and they told me they could not treat wild birds by law. I called the numbers they gave me, too, with no luck. Eleven calls and an hour later, the cavalry was still not coming.

At that point, with the hummer still panting away on the feeder, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I consulted the Internet for instructions: Hummingbird First Aid.

The news wasn't encouraging. According to the site, very few hummers survive any kind of trauma. You have about four hours to start treatment, 24 before it's too late. Plus, there are heavy duty laws against keeping one in captivity.

Undeterred, I rounded up a shoe box and a soft cloth and headed back downstairs to attempt a rescue. Per the website, a pouffy hummingbird is a cold hummingbird in need of being warmed under a light bulb. That much I could do.

Then I heard a thudding sound downstairs from the general vicinity of the kitchen window. And when I got there the little bird was gone.

Did some predator notice him there and snatch him? Did Gatsby Cat pounce at him through the glass and scare him away? I'll never know.

But the next day, a somewhat puffy male hummer came and went at the feeder. He did not fly away when I peered closely at him, and looked me in the eye, unafraid, as he drank.

Was it the same bird? I hope it was, and that he's made it through to another season.






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17 comments:

Thyra said...

I have studied the two photos of the humming bird, especially how the feathers are along the wing,and there is a similarity, don't you think?
I have read many descriptions of how animals can show us if they need help, and maybe this is one of the occassions. But you did everything you could do to help this little bird.
If something happened to it before you came back then it would have been lying on the ground, wouldn't it?
Cheers
Thyra

MyMaracas said...

Thyra, I thought they looked a lot alike too. And unless a hawk or crow or something took it it should have been under the feeder. So maybe he is OK. :-)

Bird said...

Looks like it got scared, then took its-self off somewhere quiet to recuperate - just having the nectar feeder where it could drink and sit safely for a while may have been enough to save it. I am always amazed at the fragility and toughness you see in the natural world.

We don't get hummers here, but I wish we did. Apart from the fact that they are amazing birds, I also wonder if they use the only kind of bird feeder that squirrels, pigeons and magpies would not rip to shreds :)

eileeninmd said...

I hope it was the same bird, maybe it just needed to take a long drink and rest after a ong journey. It is cute when the birds look in the window at you.

Crafty Green Poet said...

oh the poor wee bird, hope he did survive...

Carver said...

I hope it was the same bird. Looks like it is. That's good of you to try to help and a shame rehabbers aren't available in a situation like that.

Scott said...

What a great story and beautiful photos to illustrate it. I hope that it was the same bird, it certainly looks like it could be.

Rambling Woods said...

Great post Vicki..if you ever have a hummer question, e-mail me and I will contact my friend who is a rehabber and she does hummers and at least I can ask. But it sounds like you had the right idea. You can also use a heating pad under half of a box too....Michelle...

Thyra said...

Hej Maracas! I don't know if I'm right or if this is a comfort, but if a hawk had taken it, there might be feathers on the ground. I couldn't help thinking about this sweet little bird. We don't have humming birds where I live.
Cheers
Thyra

A piece of news said...

OH we had similar days this week. I am SURE he the same fellow. I can't bear to think of anything else. And ditto about the feathers left behind.

MyMaracas said...

Bird, I share your wonder at the toughness and fragility of so many creatures. Too bad you don't have hummers - they are wonderful to watch and can become very tame.


Eileen, I didn't think of that! Maybe it had just arrived from its migration and was tired, not sick. I certainly hope so.

Crafty, I'm choosing to believe he did.

MyMaracas said...

Carver, I'm considering becoming a hummer rehabber myself, since there aren't any around.

Scott, thanks! The top photo would have been better, but I didn't dare get too close for fear of scaring him off.

Michelle, I wish I had a rehabber friend! I'll email you next time for advice. I like the idea of a heating pad better than the lightbulb, which would have to be terrifying to the bird.

MyMaracas said...

Thyra and News, you're right about the feathers. And a hawk would probably have knocked the feeder off the window, as it's only held on by a stopper.

Thanks, everyone, for your kindness in caring so much about this tiny little creature!

KaHolly said...

Fascinating story and comments. Not one mention of what kind of hummingbird it was! Any idea? ~karen

MyMaracas said...

Karen, ours are ruby throated hummingbirds. Sorry I forgot to mention that!

EG Wow said...

I enjoyed reading that story. I hope the bird was one and the same!

Unseen Rajasthan said...

Beautiful and lovely shots !!Great and awesome !!Unseen Rajasthan