Morning Visitor

By Jerry D. Haight

It was a dark and stormy night in Tucson when an unusual wind driven downpour soaked the spring air. High In the Eucalyptus trees adjacent to our yard were scores of nests containing an early spring hatch of tiny hummingbirds, each no larger than a small pecan nut, maybe 2 to 2.5 cm. Their needle like beaks as long as their body, were only brought into perspective by feathers and tail. One can only imagine the circumstances that dislodged one of the tiny creatures from the confines of a cozy, well attended nest and started it on a long descent to a hard wet landing on the ground far below.  

Still alive, it must have been a long cold night for the fledgling but finally with morning came the southwest sun peaking beneath the clouds and with it the dawn of a new day.

As Phyllis took Misty out for her morning chores, she could not help basking in the moist, clean air, noticing the crystal view of the Catalina mountains uninhibited by dust or smog. As was her habit, she scanned the ground hoping to see nothing but pavers of the patio, the green of the morning grass and rock that had been freshly washed by the waters of the night before. But, alas, there was something else. At first, it looked a little like a leaf, somewhat the color of a Eucalyptus leaf,  but of different shape. Then she saw the outstretched wings and knew it was a baby hummingbird.

Phyllis called me to the patio and pointed out the bird. At first, it blended in with the rock, making her difficult to see. Then, I too, saw the tiny thing and thought, surely it must either be dead or soon would be as bird rescues usually do not have very good outcomes. Picking up the little creature I noticed it weighed about as much as a small cotton ball. It was soaked, cold and trembling. The way it carried it's wings caused me to think they might be broken, another ominous sign of impending doom.

It dawned on me to put the bird on the lawn and leave it to it's natural course, which I felt sure would mean having to deal with a bird body later. But there was something about the little trembling body in my hand, the searching eyes looking directly into mine that made me know I had to at least try a rescue. But how does one rescue such a pitiful creature?

I remembered my CPR training, but the idea of mouth to beak resuscitation didn't seem  appropriate at the time,  but I wondered if my warm breath might bring  her comfort as long as she didn't think she was about to be my breakfast. So, cupping my hands, with the tiny bird inside, I began to breath lightly over her. Strangely, she began to relax. Even though her body was cold and very wet, there was a clarity in her eyes that reminded us she had not given up and I thought "neither shall we". Phyllis brought a small wicker basket lined with an absorption towel that we thought might soak up some of the water from the little bird and we took turns breathing over her. We brought the basket with the bird into our dining room and placed it on the table.

Our avian guest began to look a little better and I thought if her wings were not broken, she just might survive. But then came a dilemma. I envisioned a house-wide fiasco involving two adults humans, one canine and one bird chasing one another around the house as we attempted to free the bird.  

Well, about forty-five minutes into the ordeal (the bird's, not ours), the little thing took matters into her own hands, so to speak, and made it clear she was ready for her freedom.

Phyllis yelled at me to open the doors quick as she placed her hands over the basket and flew (Phyllis, not the bird) to the now open door and quickly released the bird and she (the bird, not Phyllis) immediately became airborne and soared over the house top right along with our spirits as we began to rejoice and cheer for our tiny visitor.

She never stopped to thank us for our hospitality and maybe will never remember the time she was our guest. Nevertheless, she made a lasting impression on us as a small reminder that like her, we also are fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are thy works Oh God.