Friday, May 09, 2008

The Rescued Baby Hummingbird

My heart is broken.

For the past three nights I have been gently plucking our baby hummingbird off of this man-made nest and bringing him inside. He seemed lacking the feathers to get him through the cold night without the shelter of a real nest. Each morning at 5:20 AM, just before sunrise, I carefully put him back on his tiny roost.

With the arrival of day, his mother would dutifully appear, feed him and watch over him.

Last night when I brought him in around midnight, his fluttering wings were stronger and he actually got lift. As I tucked him in for the night, I thought, “He might try to fly tomorrow.” When I put him in his “nest” this morning the process had become old hat. He easily fluttered from my hand onto his spot.

When I checked him at midmorning. He was about 6 inches from the nest on a tiny branch. Had he “flown” there? He still looked a bit downy to be truly flying. Mom came and fed him and our routine seemed to be working out just fine.

But when I went to leave the house at noon, he was gone. No tiny figure perched on the twig. I looked in the immediate area. Some hummingbird fledges test themselves with short flights, while I’ve seen others just take off and go straight from the nest.

When his mother came back I watched her do the same thing I had done. Look in his spot, search the immediate area, then become concerned. She came over to me, chirping. I tried to convey to her, that I didn’t have him. I hoped he would call to her and she would find him, but so far that hasn’t happened.

There are no signs of foul play. Inali has searched the planter. She found bits of the destroyed original nest, but this time no baby. I think he tried to fly and wasn’t as ready as he thought he was. I hope he is somewhere in the tree.

It is hard to move forward with the things I know I should be doing today. This baby hummingbird fluttered in my hand like a moth. The first time I brought him in for the night, his tiny tongue came out and tasted my hand. The second night, when he was shivering, he seemed to relax when my warm hand encircled him. His tiny claws actually clung to the ridges on the pads of my fingers. He was a bit of grace, a living wonder.

His mother, Inali and I, we’ll all keep searching.

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