Friday, May 09, 2008

Today is Mother’s Day

Several times today, we scoured the bushes. Watched the tree for any sign of a clumsy baby hummingbird. But we found no sign of the baby. Inali and I weren’t the only ones looking. His mother would come back to the feeder, search the tree, sit close to the spot where she had fed him this morning. She called, but there was no answer.

I had resolved myself to the fact that something might have happened between those few hours of 10 and noon when he seemed to have disappeared.

As twilight started to fall, I sat across from the tree and watched as a constant flow of hummingbirds, Allen’s and a few Anna’s, stopped at the feeder to top off for the night. There was an awkward youngster that crash landed in the top of the tree before going to the feeder. But it seemed too large for the baby I had held in my hand this morning.

As it got gradually darker, the mother hummingbird perched on the branch where she had last seen her fledgling. We waited.

Then I saw a shadow appear from behind the ivy across the street. A cat. It’s been years since we’ve had a cat prowling this part of the street. Could this cat have spotted our little hummingbird on its perch 5 feet off the ground?

Inali barked and growled. The cat slunk down the street.

My heart dropped. It was getting darker. If the young hummingbird didn’t come back to roost in his nest tree with his mother, we would know something had gone wrong.

Mom chased off another hummingbird that attempted to come to the feeder while she was watching. She seemed as anxious as I was. The sound of her slapping bills with the Anna’s female was like the clashing of tiny sabres. Soon, she returned and sat on the feeder.

Together, we waited.

Suddenly a tiny figure dropped into the tree. It was nearly dark, 7:40 PM. The little hummingbird hovered above the feeder and came to rest beside the waiting female. It drank and then lost its footing and fluttered, like youngsters often do. Mom sat and watched it drink. Our relief was audible.

The little youngster had been exploring the neighborhood all day long. It is amazing how hummingbirds go straight from vulnerable to independent in an hour or two. After a few more slurps, he flew up to a tiny branch in the tree. Mom followed and they settled in for the night.

Tonight, this little one is on his own. It was a team effort, but we did it.

We saved this tiny baby and he has become a remarkable flying jewel.

For Pictures and the whole story.

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