My ‘up close and personal’ day with an Allen’s hummingbird

I can’t help but wonder what might have occurred had I not almost two years ago read an intriguing book, “Fastest Things on Wings: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood,” by Terry Masear.

Prior to reading this book I would have been content to know the little beauties by observation only, and not concerned with detail.  As an example, I didn’t know that they’re susceptible to bacteria. Rule #1: Keep the feeders clean. Rule #2: In SoCal heat the feeders need to be cleaned as often as every other day and Rule #3: Don’t attract the birds to the feeders and then let them go dry.

I purchased some of the tiniest little brushes I could find for cleaning, made my sugar-water and set up a couple of feeding stations. And then…

Bees. Thousands of them by the time I took the feeders down. So although I’d learned so much about attracting hummingbirds and giving them optimum conditions, my efforts failed.

That was two years ago, and recently I tried again.

Friday was a busy day! I had afternoon plans to take one granddaughter to swim practice and the other needed to prepare for softball, but one thing I’ve learned is that it’s better not to attract wildlife to your backyard if you’re not prepared to engage, convenient or not.

Just before noon I decided to move a couple of plants very near one of the feeders and I found Lucy (in the Sky With Diamonds), wedged between some rocks. I took my little trowel and gently scooped her up, and although not flying, she was alert, so I held her up to the feeder and she took some sugar-water.

After reading Terry Masear’s fabulous book I knew there was much more to caring for this little bird than sugar-water.

Taking the lead from what I’d previously learned I quickly looked for a local wildlife rehabilitator and I was delighted that Terry’s phone number was listed along with some general guidelines.

She very graciously walked me through the first steps in evaluating “what to do next” and after sending her photos and a video of Lucy trying to fly, by late afternoon Papa took over the girls’ preparation and I transported the little beauty to one of Terry’s contacts about an hour from our home.

There is more to the care and protection of hummingbirds than I can share in a brief post, but it is worth noting that hummingbirds are included in the list of Migratory Birds and protected under the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations.

And as such, the expected protocol is to call a “Hummingbird Rescue” or wildlife rehabilitation facility to take the lead on care. I was very surprised at how many local options were listed.

Terry Masear’s book is a fantastic story, highlighting her own almost impossible shift from college professor to hummingbird rehabilitator, complete with stories from hummingbird rescues all over the Los Angeles area. It is a very entertaining book, as well as offering excellent instruction. An Audubon overview of the book can be found HERE.

In some Native American traditions the hummingbird totem is a symbol of peace, love and happiness. I took care of her, but what a gift she gave to me!