Hummingbird Update: 6.2.10

2 hummingbirds, beak to tail, in nest. One on left hatched May 24, one on right, May 26, 2010

Note: This is the third installment of the hummingbird nest in my fig tree. See the previous post.

Last night, around twilight, I heard a lot of bird chatter outside the office window. There is a hummingbird feeder and a ground-level birdbath, and bird-scolding is not unusual. This, however, was frantic. There was nothing specific, though, so I brushed it off.

As night fell, I checked on the mother hummingbird sitting on the nest in the fig tree. The nest was empty. Well, she could be late. Missed the bus. Out getting a tattoo. Something. But I know that hummingbirds don’t fly and don’t feed at night. It was almost dark, and I was concerned. I turned on the outside light. I checked again at 8 p.m, at 9 p.m., and at 10 p.m. I researched some wildlife rehabilitators, just in case.

the earlier ruckus might have been about a hummingbird attack. Maybe by a larger bird–we have grackles and crows. Maybe a cat caught the hummingbird unawares. I just didn’t know. All I knew was that the nest stayed empty. The nest stayed empty at 5 a.m. this morning, and at 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. The hummingbird was often gone early in the morning, but not for this long. I began to call the list of rehabbers, but none of the phones worked, or they had moved. The internet is not always an up-to-date source. A dozen more calls got me within one call of a rehabber.

Before my first coaching client called, I took an eye dropper, filled it with room-temperature hummingbird food, climbed on a step-stool and fed the chicks. The eye dropper was too big, but I managed to get a drop down each beak. In between clients, I

On the way to rehab.

repeated the feeding and found a rehabber at Fallen Feathers. Jody Kieran runs the business. She’s federally- and state licensed and has rescued 1,000 birds in her life. “Cut the branch and bring them in,” she said. My eyes filled. What if the mother was still out there? And, the answer was, of course, what if she was not? The chicks had now been without gurgle (a mother’s regurgitated food) for 14 hours. They wouldn’t last much longer. They were progressing nicely, and it would be awful to let them die in the nest. I cut the branch, which allowed them to stay in their own nest.

Jody is a down-to-earth, practical rehabber. She doesn’t have enough volunteers, and there is no state or federal funding provided for rehabbers. And still, on her own, and with her own money, Jody feeds, houses, cleans, socializes, and adapts birds to their environment. Within two minutes of my walking into the door, she had the branch on the counter, produced a feeding syringe, and with the expertise of the mother, fed both birds.

At the moment, Jody has two baby Great Horned Owls, a flock of quail, a small hawk, a leucistic (white, not albino) hummingbird, a dove, a noisy bunch of  tropical birds that have been abandoned, several other birds,  and more than a few hummingbirds, some close to being moved to the gazebo so they will learn to eat flower nectar and insects.

I’m happy I found Jody. She could use some help–volunteers to do feeding and cleaning and cash to keep the place running. If you live in the Northwest Valley (West of Phoenix, AZ), and want to help a wildlife rehabilitator do a great job, contact her through her website,

10 thoughts on “Hummingbird Update: 6.2.10

  1. I guess so but when one of our cats died suddenly our other cat looked for the one who died for weeks and it broke my heart that I couldn’t explain to him where the other cat went.

    • Ah, yes, but that is cat behavior. When we had to put down one of our cats, we had the vet come to the house and the other cats were there and clearly were sad. But they didn’t look for the dead cat. Cats mourn in cat ways, and humans in human ways. But cats don’t mourn in human ways. Baby birds are quite different from cats, and their main concerns are eating and pooping. I’m not sure how birds mourn, but they clearly get angry, defend their territory, and teach their chicks how to fend for themselves. Once the chicks fledge, mom stays near for a day or so, and then will aggressively chase their own fledgers from the feeders the moms use.

  2. I am so glad you took responsibility for the baby hummers! I too would’ve been concerned about whether or not the mother was actually gone for good. I’m glad the babies will be okay but part of me aches for them. I imagine them thinking, “What happened to Mommy?”

    • I still see a hummingbird just like the mom and I worry she wondered what happened to her babies! But that’s anthropomorphizing (putting human feelings on animals) and luckily, animals don’t think like humans. The babies are in comfort–being fed regularly and not in a nest that’s 106 degrees–they are inside and will get used to our heat when they can regulate their own body temperature.

  3. Yay…happy little birds…lovely humans. We are, afterall, part of nature too. Sometimes taking that responsibility is just the right thing…at the right time…

  4. Oh my. So glad you were able to find help. i will send a donation to Fallen Feathers in honor of the baby is good to support people who are so willing to give that much of themselves to help.

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