Have you ever held a hummingbird in your hand? I have, and the most recent experience was about a week ago. We have a lot of hummingbirds around our feeder in the summer and we enjoy watching them eating, fussing with one another and checking out the flowers in the garden. However, one will periodically get trapped in our garage. We have three separate overhead garage doors and one or two of them are usually left open when the weather is nice. The bird flies in and can’t figure out how to get back out. He will generally fly up to the large windows that are above the doors and exhaust himself trying to get out up there.
We have tried all kinds of ways to help the bewildered bird find its way out of the garage, but none seem to work. Trying to catch them with a butterfly net is often futile because the ceiling of our garage is very high and wielding a net at the tip of a long pole is difficult and not very effective. From experience I have discovered that it is best to leave the bird alone until he is totally exhausted at which time he will land someplace and stay there because he is simply too tired to fly.
Here’s where the cool part comes in. Once the bird is exhausted I can either catch him with a net or pick him up in my hands. It is an incredible feeling to have this tiny creature in my hand. He seems to vibrate, either from fear or exhaustion, but after awhile calms down and becomes still. When he is settled a bit I take him to the feeder and dip his beak in the sugar water. It may take a few tries before he figures out that it’s food, but once he takes a sip or two, he begins to perk up, looking around and gradually taking note of his surroundings. You would think the sight of a human so close would terrify him, but it doesn’t seem to. He actually looks interested in what’s happening.
A few minutes after taking some sugar water, the bird regains enough strength to fly away, either to the top of a light fixture or a nearby tree. I don’t know if he stops to rest at that point, or heads straight towards home, but I am always very relieved to see him airborne again. I also don’t know whether it’s the same bird getting caught in our garage multiple times, or many different birds. I do know that it’s magical having such an intimate encounter with a hummingbird and I feel privileged to be a part of it’s life for a brief period of time. This last time I wanted to have a picture taken of me with the little guy in my hand, but didn’t dare take the time to locate the camera and get someone to shoot the picture. It seemed more important to get him to the feeder so he could regain his strength.
It would be great if we could figure out how to keep the hummingbirds out of our garage. Until then it’s nice to know that these encounters don’t have to be fatal and that I can come to the rescue when needed. And maybe next time I can get a picture!