A pair of hummingbirds has raised a baby this year near my Mom's house, relying heavily on the nectar she puts out for them. Daddy walked out on the porch and found the baby sitting there alone, crying pitifully. I guess he ran into the glass door.
The baby couldn't take off from the ground, so I held him in my hand, not restraining him, just giving him a warm place to get his wits about him. His cries were heart rending, he was one scared little birdie. Two drops of nectar were still on his breast feathers.
One of his wings was extended, but apparently not broken, he was just frozen with fear. I stroked his wing and marvelled at a real bird wing the size of a small, extended paperclip. The muscles and bones were visible beneath the feathers.
Yes, there were feathers so small it was ahard for my brain to register that they were feathers. Emerald green feathers, with longer, perfectly formed flight feathers. Part of my brain was running down a checklist-broken bones, look at the pupils (tiny little pupils), heart rate....hmmmm it probably should be faster but how fast? The other part of my brain was in complete and utter shock and this marvelous minature creature.
The parents dove around, clearly distressed. Hummingbirds are wary little creatures and they didn't like my interference. We have watched them investing their daily lives into raising this chick. He tried to fly out of my hand but just couldn't get the lift he needed, so I picked him up again.
We sat on the porch, this little hummer and I. "Be calm, be calm" I told him with my mind. I don't think words are terribly comforting to a wild creature. I did think about a camera, I wanted the camera, but I didn't think that was best for the task at hand.
After a bit, I took him the the feeder and offered him a drink. He didn't seem interested. I thought that if he could get up on the perch he might be able to take off from there, since they don't usually start on the ground. Now I have had parrots step up on perches, but this perch was the size of a spaghetti noodle and the bird could not have sat on my finger if it wanted to. So I just moved the palm of my hand under the perch and waited for the guy to step up.
Like any other bird, he stepped up with one leg and left the other in my palm, unsure of which way to go. I just waited and he finally got in the perch.
When we checked a few minutes later, he was gone-not on the perch and not on the ground. So, I guess it worked.
While holding the bird, the thought came to me that sometimes that's all we need-a quiet place to sit and be safe and gather our wits. I am honored to be that place for that bird, it was a miracle that few people get to behold. Sometime the best help is to do or say anything, but rather just be there.