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In which I save a hummingbird

August 26, 2011
by

I have a new job.  I’m now a teacher assistant for a gifted class at an elementary school here in Chapel Hill.  This affects this blog in two ways.  1)  I no longer have a job that allows for me to spend a great deal of down time in front of a computer  2) Because my first obligation is to the ABA Blog that I administer, busy times there may necessitate reduced posting here.

Does that mean an end to my yeoman-like three to four posts a week?  Maybe.  The jury’s still out.  But I will continue to write and work on managing my time to make it work.  I enjoy it too much.  In any case, this new position does apparently offer opportunities for birding and bird outreach as they come up.  Case in point, what happened to me earlier this week.

In advance of the new school year,  many of the teachers at this elementary school have been doing a lot of cleaning and airing out of old classrooms.  Many of the classes at this particular school are held in modified trailers and the doors are often wide open.  I was making copies in the office when one of the Pre-K teachers came in needing a facilities person because a hummingbird had flown into her classroom and wouldn’t fly out.  Hesitant to brand myself the “bird guy” at yet another place of employ but eager to help this wayward bird, I volunteered to help out.  I entered the room to find a panicky female/young male hummingbird flying around the ceiling refusing to take advantage of the wide open doors to escape.  Birds, you see, panic upwards.  When trapped in a room they won’t even fly down six inches to escape, it just doesn’t occur to them.  Without a hummingbird feeder to hang in the open door to draw it down, I grabbed a dustbin and cornered the exhausted little bird such that it landed on the bin and was easy to grab.

I removed the hummingbird from the classroom, opened my hand expecting to see it fly away only to watch the bird slide into a stupor right in my palm.  This little guy/girl wasn’t going anywhere.

It was like this, sort of

See, hummingbirds do everything fast.  And as such, their metabolism has them literally exhausting themselves to death if they over-exert without a ready food source.  I was afraid this was going to happen with this bird, so I set out to find some food.  First, a teacher with a hummingbird feeder set up.  None.  Next, a garden with tubed flowers.  Nope.  Then, an epiphany.  I’ll jst mix up a batch of sugar water and force the bird to eat.

So that’s what I did, using a Solo plastic cup and the sugar from near the coffee maker.  But dipping the bird’s bill in the top of the cup was futile, so I asked a asked a nearby administrator (I’d drawn a crowd by this point) to grab a push pin and I made a tiny hole near the bottom of the cup.  I placed the bird’s bill in the hole.

A few seconds passed with nothing doing then, the bird realized what was going on and began to drink.  It drank so much that it soon perked up, sitting upright in my hand.  Even better, the solo cup offered a cool vantage point on hummingbird feeding mechanics, as you could look in the top of the cup and see the little bird’s tongue flicking in and out (it’s forked, did you know?).

The bird drank its fill, sat upright, and finally, buzzed off apparently no worse for wear.  I was, forever and always again, the “bird guy”.  But at least the hummingbird made it.

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8 Comments
  1. August 26, 2011 9:27 am

    Hello, it’e been a long time since I left a comment on your blog last time. Since I am enthusiastic hummingbird lover, I am so happy that the little bird was okay.
    Good luck in your new job!

  2. August 26, 2011 9:43 am

    You are too much Nate! What a great little story! And what a great teacher you will be and are for us all.

  3. August 26, 2011 10:24 am

    Awesome story and I like your inventive mind for the Solo cup. Very cool!

  4. August 26, 2011 11:51 am

    I am glad you will be teaching even if it means less of these fun to read posts because our schools are in dire need of educated naturalists like yourself.

  5. August 26, 2011 12:19 pm

    Nice to have a story with a happy ending for a change! …someday the li’l guy may be telling the tale to his grandchildren: ‘…and the next thing I remember I was slurping delicious nectar from a cup held by some big guy…’

  6. Angel permalink
    August 27, 2011 9:29 pm

    What a great story! You are very kind for doing that!

  7. August 30, 2011 2:19 pm

    Love this story. Nicely done.

  8. Humdinger permalink
    August 31, 2011 1:08 am

    Beautiful.
    Thank you.

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