Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Helping a Hummingbird

My boys have always enjoyed being outside, learning about animals and observing nature.  They each have their own area that they are interested in and I try to encourage that as much as possible.

We go on weekly walks and hikes looking for animals, new and unusual plants, or anything else that strikes us.  My boys are eager to share oddly shaped bark, sticks, pretty flowers or observations with one another.

They are naturalists by nature.


Yesterday our skills were really put to the test when we discovered we had, yet another, hummingbird stuck in our garage.  We always get at least a few stuck in there each year and we've gotten pretty good at coaxing them out.  Often we can put a hummingbird feeder or a bouquet of flowers near the door and they'll eventually fly out. Lured down by the food they find their way out and happily fly away.

Yesterday that bird was stuck in there almost all day.  It was so small and we felt so bad for it.

We eventually found him on the floor of the garage and we weren't sure if he was even still alive!  He was barely moving and his breathing was not obvious.

I encouraged Alec to GENTLY pick it up and carry it outside to the lawn.  I figured if it was dead we weren't hurting it, but if it was alive we might have a chance to set it free.

Normally we believe that nature is best observed and try not to interfere unless we know it's going to save the life of an animal.  (Like moving a sun turtle away from the road).  I figured this was one of those times where it certainly couldn't hurt to try and help. 

While Alec was getting the bird I went to get my phone and we Googled how to rehabilitate a hummingbird.

We read through all the steps and evaluated the bird with each one.  He appeared unharmed, but was not able (or willing) to fly away.  We assumed he was exhausted and a bit malnourished; after all if he had found his way to the hummingbird feeder he would have found his way out of the garage.

He could not support himself on his legs and even just holding him in Alec's hand the wind was knocking him over.  I was so afraid that he was beyond helping and we were all going to have a sad, sad memory of our day.


We read that if you gently hold the hummingbird's body and insert his beak into a hummingbird feeder; drawing it in and out you should be able to see the bird drinking.  Either his neck/ throat muscles would work and pulse very fast or else you would see his beak and tongue moving.  We weren't sure it was working at first but we kept trying.


Eventually he started fluttering his wings just a bit.  He tried to move and fell off Alec's fingers lightly onto the grass.  Luckily we were already on the ground and he only fell 1/2 inch or so.  He latched onto the grass but we could tell he was still pretty weak.


Ian coaxed the bird to let go of the grass and perch on his fingers.  He brought the bird right up to the edge of the feeder and after a lot of patient coaxing got the bird back onto the hummingbird feeder.




We could tell just the few sips he had had (with Alec's help) had helped perk him up tremendously.  We were hoping he'd drink more and be able to fly off.

Imagine our surprise when after a few more minutes and a few more test of his wings he just took off and zoomed into the sky.  Within moments he had flown so high and right out of sight.  


My boys were in awe of this miracle of nature and their part in it.  We were all overjoyed that we had helped this tiny little bird that looked like he was on the brink of death get back to health.

I know this is one of those lessons that they are never going to forget.  A totally unplanned but very important lesson.

It's also one we don't want to repeat so we're trying to be more vigilant about keeping our garage doors closed.  We had bought a few hummingbird feeders this year and placed them on the opposite side of the house in the hopes that we'd keep them away from our garage, but apparently that is not enough.

Linking Up With: Frugal Mommas Friday
Hip Homeschool Moms


Titus 2 Tuesday #linkup

Mummascribbles


Simply Knowledge Homeschool

Thinking Outside The Pot

16 comments :

  1. I am so glad your story had a happy ending. And what a wonderful learning experience. A few years ago Keilee found a baby mockingbird in the yard and raised it for a couple of weeks. It would come to her in the yard when she called it. We found it dead in the huge box we were keeping it in. It was such a sad moment. I'm glad your story ended well! We LOVE Hummingbirds. :)

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    1. Oh how sad. I was so worried it was not going to have a happy ending. I kept reminding the kids that he was tiny and might have had injuries we couldn't see. I never thought he was going to perk up so well! It was a wonderful relief to have a story with a happy ending instead of a sad one.

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  2. Hi, Mother of 3! I'm visiting today from Chronically Content. This is such an awesome learning experience and sweet story. Glad the hummingbird ended up ok! Loved all the pictures! Thanks for sharing and hope you have a wonderful day :)

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  3. What a cool experience! I'm so glad the bird survived. Hummingbirds are so fragile and seem so nervous, it's surprising that it didn't have a heart attack or something. I bet your kids will remember that experience for years to come. :)

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    1. I was so surprised. I kept thinking how scary we must be to such a tiny creature!

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  4. I'm so glad the bird made it! We had a similar experience with a not so happy ending.

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    1. Oh no! Usually we find one or two dead ones in our garage each year. Seems like we just can't keep them out of there. We've never found one alive enough to try and rehabilitate. Everything we read told us how fragile they were and how unlikely we were to save it. I think we were really lucky!

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  5. What a great story, Mother of 3 :) Waaay back during our homeschooling days, we loved to observe the beauty of nature and all its amazing critters. I began putting bird seed out in hopes of attracting some feathered friends. My first customer was a Chipping Sparrow which we lovingly referred to as Cappies (their copper colored heads reminded me of little caps). Over the years, my two children and I learned about many different birds, how to recognized males from females, different songs and calls, what types of nests they built and color and size of their eggs. It was a wonderful learning experience that led me to start keeping a small flock of laying hens. I'm so happy that you were able to nurse your little friend back to health!! Wishing you many many more wonderful nature filled experiences.

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    1. I want to do a whole birding unit this summer. We now have several feeders and more birds around than ever; it's so fun to watch them.

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  6. THAT is just awesome. So happy it had a happy ending...good job raising those kids to be so kind to nature!

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  7. We had a very confused little hummer fly into our house once, many years ago. I caught him and took him out to the lawn. We all knelt down, and I opened my hands. We got to look at him for a minute and then he levitated up about 2 feet, and WHOOSH! zoomed off. It was really neat.

    I was sure to wash really, really well afterwards and explain to the kids that they always need to wash well after touching birds or even wild feathers, since birds can carry diseases.

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    1. True. We were just amazed at how soft he was; we could feel and see his heart beating too.

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  8. That is soo cool! What a great experience for everyone. Thanks for sharing at Family Joy Blog Link Up!

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