Friday, August 01, 2008

Casualty In The Great Hummingbird War of Hocking County

So we walked into the garage today and got a horrible shock.

Emily, my little hummingbird friend, was trapped in the garage. The poor little thing kept flying into the ceiling, bashing against the wall and the garage door, desperately trying to find a way out. She wouldn't settle on anything to rest; by the time we found her, she must have been bumping into things for hours. She was exhausted, and terrified.

We knew we had to get her out.

Now picture this: four adults, armed with brooms and ladders and plastic containers trying to herd a scared hummingbird into something so that we could take her outside and set her free. Not only was it probably funny to anyone that might have caught a glimpse of it, it was upsetting. Other hummingbirds lined the fence outside, calling to Emily as she darted from side to side, her little wings beating so slowly that it was like watching any other species of bird. She's particularly gaunt at the moment, having (apparently) hatched her eggs in the privacy of her woven spiderweb and lichen nest.

She's also spunky.

Twenty minutes passed, and finally my husband, perched precariously with one foot on the ladder and another on the top of the SUV, trapped her in an old plastic tub. When she settled down finally within it, Shannon slipped a plastic lid over the tub and we took Emily outside.

She was so tired that when we removed the lid, she just sat there looking at us. It's the closest I've ever been to a living hummingbird, and this one just stared at us from dulled eyes. The only life about her flashed from her emerald feathers--the ones on her back that I'd never seen when she darted at the feeder.

She stayed with us for five minutes, communing in her silent way with the two huge creatures that has brought her out into the open. She could smell the dusty scent of the grass, the fading aroma of the late lilies, the wind swirling gently around her feathers. She permitted me to touch her--one gentle stroke across her little back, then cocked her head and glanced over her shoulder with a quiet chirp.

Then she pushed off from the plastic container and rose into the sky. She didn't hover; she fled to the safety of the nearby woods, probably to check on her growing young ones.

An hour later, she visted our feeder again. She hovered near us, looking at us both, then perched on the little yellow flowers of the hummingbird feeder and drank her fill.

We saved a hummingbird today. What a great karmic experience! But, in the end, I realized that in some way Emily had given us a precious gift. For a few quiet moments, we earned this tiny creature's trust. And then she rose back onto the skies, and we knew that our efforts had been rewarded. She would live, and thrive, in the environment she was meant to enjoy.

And on one hot August day, we would live and thrive in the knowledge that we had done some good for the earth she lived on. It was a great feeling.

So...we drank vodka to celebrate.