Grit Blogs > Rosedale Garden

Hummingbird Revival

A photo of MaryIt was a very hot high humidity day. I was working on a new iris and daylily bed when Mom called from her house that she had a hummingbird in her garage.  As I walked into her garage, she said it must have flown out as she didn’t see it.  I started searching around her garage and it slowly fluttered over my shoulder and ran into the wall, slid down and then flies up toward the ceiling and then flew into the wall near the door and fell behind her rolling garbage can.   I pulled the can away from the corner and the little male was lying on its back, with his eyes closed.  I picked him up and he was so limp. I cleaned the webs off and Mom kept saying he wasn’t in here long.

I had Mom run water over my hand while I held his beak in the water stream. Shortly a tongue came out with just a little wiggle. I decided that the little guy needed something containing more energy than water so I ran over to my house to my hummingbird feeder. Well actually a fast walk, well maybe more of a labored walk since I was also over heated and still needing knee surgery.  I couldn’t get his beak down into the port of the feeder, so I tilted it and dribbled it slowly down his beak.  After what seemed several minutes, I saw a flick of his tongue and he started lapping in the sugar water.  Eventually he opened his eyes. I would let him lap a little bit and rest a little as I didn’t want to overfill him. I didn’t realize how long a tongue they have, and his was lapping up the syrup much like a cat would. Eventually he started sitting upright on his own in my hand and looking around.  I fed him a couple more times and he seemed to enjoy the hand feeding.  Another male flew up wanting to feed, and as I look toward that one to get a picture, the little guy in my hand flew off.

With the flowers on the decrease, the hummers are hitting the feeders heavily getting ready for their migration back to south of the border. Don’t use the colored dye sugar water in your feeders. Make your own by using 1 part of sugar and 4 parts of boiling water. Cool and place in your feeder.  The red on the feeder itself is enough to attract hummers.

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The weather has been either hot or hot and humid with little rain. I still have a few late season daylilies and some in rebloom. I’ve been mowing the lower forty slowly for several afternoons trying to get the grass back down to a normal mowing height.  My new belt has been holding up just fine.   This week gardening takes a back seat to the W C Handy Festival. My back seat has several lawn chairs in it all week in case I run into someone needing a loan of a chair.  My favorite concert is the one this coming Friday night at the Tennessee River. Five hours of music and a new band coming out every 30 minutes or so.  Things aren’t on a strict time line.

Update on the Hooligans: I’m still working on the snake bite infection that Patches has. Instead of telling her to come, I finally wised up and just told her to stay, catch her and after spraying her leg would give her a biscuit. Now she looks for the biscuit each time. I had to take Blackie to the vet Saturday. She has an UTI plus a bladder full of stones. She is on a pH changing food and antibiotics. I hope that works so she can avoid surgery to remove them. Patches and Blackie’s mouse hunting hasn’t been dampened.  Levi is busy with guard duty while I’m working out in the yard.

doug kave
8/8/2011 12:31:23 PM

While building our house, we had the same thing happen. A hummingbird was unable to get out of the construction site and eventually became exhausted and dropped to the floor. I picked it up and placed a bottle cap of hawiian punch next to it's beak. Tongue flicked out and tasted it and then more, then it sat up and eventually flew away. It was a really cool experience helping a little thing in trouble.


loren young
8/6/2011 9:34:27 AM

I've often marveled at the way the hummingbird is so resiliant to nature's changes and habitat reductions. It's refreshing to see that people care about what happens to our feathered friends. Most of the time we hear and see the negatives, but this brief stop to this site fortifies the fact that many do care and our gratitude is to those who do.


mary carton
8/5/2011 7:52:03 PM

Wow Karelle 27 feeding stations. When I retire I'll have a bunch like that. I have a couple of friends feeding over a gallon of sugar water a day. Mary Ellen I have a hummer nest or two every years in a weeping peach tree near my feeders and I've yet to find the next.It has some dead limbs, but I wont' trim them for fear I'll get a nest. Charles I've been looking for my little fellow, but I have so many males I can't pick him out. It was such a great feeling. Thanks everyone for reading.


mary ellen mcwilliams
8/5/2011 12:20:14 PM

I had the pleasure of saving a baby that had fallen out of his nest last summer. He was so sweet, scared at first but I did the same thing for him. I got some of my feeder food and dipped my finger into it and fed him/her off my finger. I let him/her sit in the ball cap I had on and of course he pooped in it but hey...who cares...it washed. I sat with him most of the day and finally saw a female, near where I found him, looking around. I sat him where she could find him and she seemed to try to take care of him. He tried to fly once at first but still wasn't strong enough. Later in the day he flew up into a tree (where I couldn't get to him) and spent the night. He was still there early but when I came home later in the day. I am pretty sure he is fine but I can only hope. They are the neatest birds. Mine go through a feeder a day. I keep 4 spaced far apart around my porch so I can sit an watch them. I got a few pictures of my "rescue" but they aren't very good. At least I have the memories.


charles powell
8/5/2011 9:53:00 AM

The same happened to me 2 years ago. Had one of the little critters fly into my woodworking shop. By the time he was exhausted he could fly no more and lit on one of the rafters. I simply picked him up and carried him to the feeder with his tounge hanging out. He looked like he was so thankful for the refreshing drink. Sat there a few minutes then took off to come back many more times that year.


karelle scharff
8/5/2011 8:35:46 AM

We live in the mountains of Colorado and have 6 feeders with a combined 27 feeding stations. We've estimated that we feed around 2-300 hummers in the course of a summer, going through 100-125 pounds of sugar. Mornings and evenings are especially exciting, right after they wake from torpor and before they settle in for the night. Sometimes there are dozens of birds hanging out at the feeders waiting for a turn. We get Broadtails, Rufous and occasionally Calliopes. I've gotten some pretty good pictures this summer. Occasionally one will fly onto our porch and sometimes we can herd it out, though sometimes we have to capture a bird and hand release it. We've had to hand feed a few too. For our hummers I actually get up at 5:15 in order to get the feeders out, since we have to take them in after the hummers go to roost, to keep the raccoons from trashing the feeders.


mary carton
7/27/2011 9:24:52 PM

Thanks Cindy, I get to catch them a lot in Mother's garage, but they are ready to zoom off as soon as you take them out of the net. This is the first one that has sat in my hand like that. I just hate it that I didn't get a picture of his take off when the other hummer came up. He seemed content just to sit in my hand until the other male showed up. I have a little female that will let you know when the feeder is empty that's hanging on the porch. There's no enjoying your coffee until a clean one is put up. Thanks for reading and commenting. Mary


cindy murphy
7/27/2011 6:04:34 PM

OMG, Mary! You actually got to hold a hummingbird?! How many people get to say that! What a rewarding experience it must have been. I don't feed the hummers from a feeder - I know myself too well, and would most likely never get around to changing the water, or forget to fill the feeder. They do come around though, seeming to enjoy a lot of the flowers I've got planted. It's always a treat to watch them; one even joined me on my front porch every morning while I had my coffee for a few years.


mary carton
7/27/2011 8:46:58 AM

Dave it was an awesome feeling saving the little guy. I at first put one up with just a little bit 1/8 C sugar and a half cup of water. In hot weather change it out every 3 or 4 days or so. As long as they have flowers, they prefer those. You have to have the feeders up in March or April depending on the migration maps to make them want to stay in the area and nest. Come late August to Sept during the migration, I'll feed over a gallon of sugar water a day. That's when I'll make up big batches and store in the refrigerator and use as needed. I put a picture on my gardening blog of one at the feeder I took yesterday. It was a male, but I'm not sure if it's the same one. I have one male that has a particularly loud buzz when he is at the feeder, so I can tell that male from the others. Thanks for reading & commenting. Mary


nebraska dave
7/27/2011 8:28:13 AM

Mary, what photogenic little guy you saved. Hopefully he will return to your feeder to let you see how well he's doing. I don't have any hummers here at the urban ranch but I've heard folks that try to attract them say they are around. How do you initially attract them. I know you put out the Humming Bird feeders but how do they find them the first time? It is fun to watch them feed. I have a friend in Iowa that has feeders and when I visit we watch the birds feed. It's fascinating to me to see how they can hover when feeding. It always a great thing to save one of God's creatures. Isn't it? Have a great Humming Bird watching day.


mary carton
7/26/2011 10:32:23 PM

Thanks Liz, glad you enjoyed it. Mary


lizheenie
7/26/2011 10:04:01 PM

Great SAVE Mary!!! The rescue of that tiny little life was a treasure to read about! Thanks for sharing!