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Monday, May 23, 2011

Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Bang!  A loud thud at the window, then a blur…

We looked and saw lying, unmoving on the deck outside, a ruby throated hummingbird. He had smacked hard into the window pane, bounced back and landed on the deck.  He lay on his back, cradled in one of the spaces between grey deck boards, feet in the air, unmoving.  Was he dead?

He was so frail and lovely.  His bib was iridescent red feather petals, overlaid like scales, sides were dark brown and iridescent green, still, still, shimmering in the light.

We fussed about what to do.  Gradually, his dark wings quivered and fanned out slowly to each side, then folded back in, fanned out slowly and folded in…

His chest began to move, tiny heart beats throbbing and quick breathes.  What could we do?  What should we do?  The wind was picking up again, rocking him as he lay in the crack.  Would he blow off the deck in his fragile state?

Little by little, he started to move his head, his thin black bill weaving, like a downed wrestler, gingerly shaking his head trying to regain consciousness.

K walked out on the deck, thinking he would sit beside the hummingbird and shelter the poor shaking body from the gusts of wind.  The injured bird could feel the vibrations in the deck boards as K walked.  With great effort, the hummingbird lurched out of the crack and rolled, ending up…beak and chest down in another crack between boards.  Now, he seemed truly stuck and even more vulnerable.

K gently grasped the tiny bird with his thumb and forefinger, carefully placing him on a solid board and sheltering him from the wind, with his hand.  The little hummingbird was no larger than K’s thumb and not as thick.

The shimmering, shivering bird turned and looked at K with deep dark eyes.  Sensing K meant no harm, the hummingbird rested on the deck, allowing himself time to recover.

Surprising us, the tiny bird rose with helicopter wings in slow motion, flew to the nearest evergreen and landed unsteadily on the lowest branch.

His tiny feet clutched the swaying branch; he flipped 360 degrees before he righted himself, his brown and green blending into the brown and green of the tree.

We watched this small round shape sitting, still, compact, hanging tight to the wind buffeted branch.  We watched.  The wind blew.  We sat and he sat, nearly 30 minutes.

Abruptly, he flew off the branch, up and over the porch, darting, wings a blur, an iridescent streak over our heads.  Relief!

Just as quickly, he was back, hovering in front of the window, red and green feathers flashing, drawing close and pulling away, over and over and over.

What was he doing?  Trying to figure out what had just happened to him?

In the end, he simply flew away, and we returned to watching the wind-tossed waves on the river’s dark surface, pleased that the ruby throated hummingbird had survived.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We had no idea this is what a hummingbird looked like that close up. The red throat is amazing and does look like scales.