Archive for January, 2012

Happy Birthday To Me

Friday, January 13th, 2012
my birthday hummingbird in hand

my birthday hummingbird in hand

This morning was a frosty 26 degrees. I ran out in my jammies to put birdseed in the empty fly-through feeder. I heard the distinct whirr of hummingbird wings overhead and looked up. This tiny female Anna’s hummingbird had come to perch at our red saucer-shaped feeder for a much needed breakfast energy drink and was literally knocked from feeding by a sudden agressive fly-by from a more robust and chirping red-throated male. Hummingbirds go into a torpor on a cold winter’s night, so when they first awake at dawn and “get out of bed” they have a very cold body temperature and they have to work hard to warm up. This bird did not seem to be getting a very warming start. And now it clumsily tumbled off backwards and fell fluttering down onto the English ivy at the walkways edge where I was standing. And laid there still, in shock, looking so cold. I stooped to cup her into my hands with her head sticking out, being mindful of her splayed wings and tail, intending to offer warmth and security, not to capture her. I could feel her rapidly beating heart and her initial trembling, but she seemed to almost immediately simply relax. I held her cupped for many minutes, standing out there at the feeders. Three other hummingbirds, including the attacking alpha male culprit, all perched nearby in the maple observing me intently, emitting little chirps and clicks.

Anna's hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

After a time, when I opened my hands to encourage her to fly away as she should, warm steam arose in the frigid air. But she continued to grip my finger with her tiny feet, and perched casually looking about, I’m assuming choosing to stay in that warm spot. I delicately stroked her tiny feathered head, adoring this close-up moment, and peered closely at all her viewable tiny features and her tiniest of feathers. But I was getting very cold myself and honestly worried about the implications of my human intervention with this wild life, so I had to encourage her to hop off onto the huckleberry bush by our kitchen door, and then she flew off slowly like a big bumblebee. It’s a hummingbird’s life, and I hope she makes it through the cold weather.