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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Today I Saved the Day

...for a tiny hummingbird.

Sidebar:  Since I was very small my mother offered us opportunities to connect with nature, specifically birds.  New Jersey winters can be nasty, and we'd hang suet, pine cones coated in peanut butter and dipped in birdseed, and other goodies in the dogwood tree outside the back door for the birds.  Then we'd watch which birds came and ate.  My favorite were the cardinals; on the bleakest of days they brought brightness to my small window of the world.

When I was in 2nd grade I joined my elementary school's bird watcher's club, and became an Audubon Society member.  The leader was the mother of a kind of dorky boy who had a crush on me.  I liked going to places outside my little town to see "exotic" birds.

In the summer I took secret delight in how the mockingbirds would dive-bomb the local cats.  The seasons resonated with bird songs and migrations.  I still do that, recognize a season or month based on who's singing and how they're singing it.

So today I pulled into my driveway and walked next door to have my neighbors sign a counter offer.  (What kind of neighbor am I that I'm helping my neighbors buy a house and move away?)  After we chatted a bit she  mentioned that she had a hummingbird trapped in her sun room.  I asked to see it and there it was, the tiny thing all panicked and dragging some cobwebs on its feet and right wing.  My neighbor had tried to "guide" it to an open window or door with a broom, but managed to frighten it more instead. The young Anna's hummingbird would flutter ineffectually against the glass, then rest on a beam.  I kicked off my pumps, climbed onto a chair in the west corner of the room, and waited.

When the bird perched I'd reach up to pull cobweb off it; the first couple of times it panicked and flew around, but by the 4th time it  just held still.  I could tell it was weak and tired; it had been trapped since early in the morning so it was hungry.

After about 10 min. my ploy paid off: it rested, wings slightly spread, and I reached from under and behind it, gently close my fingers around it.  The right wing was between my first & middle fingers, and after a brief flutter, it played dead. It held so still that I thought at first the poor thing had had a heart attack.  I held it lightly, it weighted nothing, hardly more than a breath of air, as I dismounted the chair and watched it.  Then I saw the "plink, plink" of its eyelids and knew it would be okay. I walked to the door way and opened my hand.  Two of my neighbor's kids came close but didn't touch it. It stayed on my hand a long time...easily a minute.  I finished removing all traces of cobweb and stepped outside the sun room.  As I moved the bird launched.  Mission: Accomplished.

The first year I lived in Colorado I held my finger underneath a hummingbird as it fed at the feeder we'd hung on a line at our cabin at 8700' feet.  I believe it was May, the sun was warm and most of the snow was gone. The hummers came every day and I watched in fascination.  When the hummer perched on my finger that first time I had a sense of awe, of connection with a force older than I could imagine, more gentle than a baby's breath.  I was transfixed by the bird's metallic beauty and humbled by the momentary trust it gave me.

Those kinds of moments don't happen frequently. Today was a reminder of that time, an opportunity to share with a new generation, another chance to interconnect with humans and nature and give back to a world that has given me so much.

1 comment:

  1. That'such a beautiful experience to be able to connect and step into their world. It's like the icing on the cake and one of those things that makes life so worthwhile.
    Nice work Deb...you have a gift.

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