Hummingbird Rescue

While a group of children were looking through discovery boxes in our 3rd floor classroom, a hummingbird flew in through the single door and then headed to one of the skylights that is at the peak of the roof. I got a call on the walkie talkie from Loree, she was working with the children that witnessed this spectacle. I walked upstairs to see what was going on, opened all of the doors, turned off lights, and turned off the ceiling fans. I walked back downstairs to get spot lights off of the snake terrariums. I hooked them up and hung them below the bird pointing towards it. Usually birds and insects will fly towards the light of an opened door or window and I was trying to simulate that with spotlights because it was overcast and the doorways had low light. Unfortunately, this little hummer paid no attention to the doorways because it was intent on getting to its parent that was flying back and forth, outside of the skylight, to encourage the youngster to follow.

I walked downstairs before the next group of children walked up, to tell them what was going on, and to ask them to be very quiet. Once they got upstairs and I watched the young hummer for a couple of minutes, I knew I had to get all of the children out of the room and try more drastic measures to remove the hummer. It was exhausted trying to meet up with its parent, and with the addition of people moving about beneath it, I was afraid it would not make it out alive. We have a heavy, fancy ladder that goes from an A frame to a long extension ladder. I asked Celina to get the extension dip net from my truck, while I prepared the ladder. She helped me lay it against a high beam just below the triangular skylight.

She held the ladder as I made my way toward the hummer. I tried putting the dip net between the wooden louvers in front of the skylights but it was not working well and I could barely see the hummer from where I was. I then climbed atop a beam so that I could better see what I was doing and get closer to the skylight. I tried for a few minutes to get the hummer to perch on the net and finally success. It was short-lived though, it jumped back onto an edging against the skylight. I tried again, slowly, lightly pushing the edge of the dip net against its chest to get it to perch atop the net again, and it finally climbed aboard.

This whole ordeal is stressful for the bird and for me because I know I don’t have too many shots at this and the hummer may die. So I very, very slowly, lowered the dip net with the perched hummer. Then I came to a point where I had to step back onto the ladder, my feet 9 feet above the ground, trying to move slowly so the hummer stays put. At more than one point, the hummer started to move so I froze until I felt confident that it would stay put. Once one foot was on the ladder, I just as slowly lowered it until Celina could grab the extended handle. I coached her as she lowered the hummer past me and started to move across the room toward a double door.

I stayed on the ladder so that I did not scare the hummer by moving, lest it fly back to the skylight. Once Celina was at the door, I started down the ladder and then followed her out the door, quickly closing them behind me. I grabbed the net with hummer and walked over to one of our hummingbird feeders. I held the net above me so that the hummer could reach the feeder and it drank for a long time. Finally it took a break so I took a break and lowered the net a bit and relaxed. About a minute later, I held the hummer up to the feeder again. I didn’t think it was going to stop drinking so I encouraged it to jump on the feeder perch by lightly resting its chest on it. Finally, it jumped up on the feeder so I walked away. Celina watched from afar until it flew off, as I allowed the children to return indoors. I walked out the back door and watched a pair of hummers flying all around while non-stop chattering. I presume those two were the parent and dare devil offspring, which will probably never again fly through an open door. The children had many questions about the hummingbird, so I told them the story of how I rescued it, and they called me a hummingbird hero!

Stacey Scarce,

AMN President