It’s been an amazing 24 hours. Our neighbor came to the door last night with news that she’d found a baby hummingbird. She spotted the hummingbird on the sidewalk while walking her dog. They brought the bird home but were unable to contact a rescue group on a Sunday night.
Together we went back to the spot a few blocks over hoping to spot the mama and the nest. Alas, no luck.
So…I brought him home. My boys were pretty excited to have a fledgling hummingbird in our midst and a social one at that. They took turns keeping him warm till I figured out a temporary nest.
My oldest son keeps watch for a while
In the end I used a small Sake cup, which is about the size of the nest mama bird would build. I lined the bottom with cotton, then shredded mohair fibers and made a fluffy nest for the night.
Cozy in his homemade nest
Mike made a batch of sugar-water using the formula we put in our feeders: Four parts clear water, and one part sugar. I offered our tiny guest drops of nectar from the tip of my finger. His tiny tongue lapping sugar-water from my finger was almost imperceptible.
He was mellow and trusting and once resting on my thumb, he didn’t want to let go. I eventually transferred him to his surrogate nest and after one last check, turned out the lights.
I should also mention that I live with three cats so finding a safe spot was critical. We have a laundry room off of the guest washroom, so I set him up in there. We used the ‘clean room’ method of walking into one room and closing the door, then going into the inner room and closing that door. Even then, I covered the nest with a ventilated laundry basket *and* a towel.
I tossed and turned in bed this morning starting at 4:00 am. Eventually I gave in and got up to take a look. There he was, cozy in his nest and looking content. I fed him three more times before leaving to take the boys to school. My friend, Laura offered the great tip of feeding him from the end of a drinking straw. In between feedings I did some research online. I checked in with my friend Ellen who volunteers at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley. I’ve been listening to Ellen’s stories for months during our shared Pilates class. I know her to be caring and knowledgeable.
Hummingbirds are not easily rehabilitated and require constant care. They must eat every twenty to thirty minutes from dawn till dusk. Can you imagine? I had two clients today, on different sides of town in addition to carpooling three teenagers to school. It would not be possible to give him the care he needed.
Still waiting for his tail feathers to grow in
After checking in with my client and dropping the teens at school, I drove to the Silicon Valley Wildlife Center one town over. While it was a relief to know the hummingbird was in excellent hands, I was melancholy too. I connected with the tiny creature and felt just a twinge of sadness when I let him go.
The Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley. Can you see the mature hummingbird flying toward me in the lower right corner?
Here’s a one-minute video from this morning. I’m feeding him with the tip of a coffee stir straw.
Good to know:
World of Hummingbirds: Hummingbird First Aid
Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley: A Rehabilitation, Release & Educational Facility
How to tell a male from a female? It’s hard to know