Part II: The Dark Side of Hummingbird Life, by Wendy DeRaud
Jun 01, 2018
"Let go the lure
The striving to unmake;
Behold the truth
Whenever heart may ache
There is a glory
In a great mistake." Nathalia Crane
Hummingbirds are such delightful creatures that we avid onlookers and fans are awed by them. Yet I wonder sometimes if we are confused by what we are seeing and often project our humanness, and so anthropomorphize these creatures, thereby doing a great injustice to our understanding of them.
That's what happened to me. One year, I got so excited about seeing Hummy return, I interpreted her actions as affections. I so much wanted her to remember me and acknowledge me as her friend, sharing my patio with me and my family, so that's what I saw when she flew around me, coming close as if to kiss me and say, "I'm back, so good to see you!!"
In fact, this particular bird wasn't so open and loving toward me as I thought. She was really warning me, "Stay away from me and my chicks! I don't trust you!"
But poo-pooing that possibility of her ominous warnings, I continued to co-habitate, trying to stay as close as possible, so I could watch and be a part of her life.
One day, when we were outside on the patio changing some lights bulbs on the string lights, she flew in like a fighter jet, swooping in somewhat erratically, in and out, back and forth, signaling to us that we had infringed on her territory. She was mad. And confused. This behavior was concerning, and I had never seen anything like it.
It was after that when I realized that we had failed to get the message right from this particular bird, because that day she abandoned her nest, and was never was seen again. I was left deflated, wondering how those chicks were going to be kept alive.
First I looked online, making a bad attempt at trying to feed the chicks myself, and practically drowned the chicks in my homemade nectar. I was finally able to get ahold of somebody at the Animal Rescue hotline, and met someone who I call the Hummingbird Lady.
She gave me some good advice. First, I was to make sure I provided a feeder so Hummy felt secure there was food available for her, so she would return. I went out and purchased one, since my birds had previously relied on native honeysuckle, Jasmine, Salvia, and other flowers from my garden. But even with a feeder in place, there was still no Hummy.
After almost 2 days without their Mama to feed them, they needed real help. The hummingbird lady finally came to my house with all the necessary supplies - a long syringe much like the shape of a hummingbird beak, and a special nectar that provides the nutrition they need. She knew just what to do.
We got her up on the ladder and she took down the nest with the little nestlings. One sadly had not survived, but the other one was still alive and crying out with all his might for food.
She grabbed her syringe and fed him, but that was just a start. She knew she would have to take him to the clinic she made in her home, for abandoned hummingbird chicks. She would give him the care he needed, feeding the nectar in 15 minute intervals, just like his mother would have done, until he was strengthened again.
I felt consoled as I said goodbye to the little chick, but now had to wait for another year and another nesting by yet another Hummy.