This morning, drinking coffee and reading with a drowsy cat draped across me, I heard the sickening thud of a bird hitting the window. Turning carefully so as not to disturb the cat I took a look -- and there, lying on its back, wings limply outspread, was a hummingbird. I dumped the cat and raced out into the rain to see if I could help this bird. It was still flat on its back when I got out onto the deck, and its head was horribly askew. I was certain it was dead, but I picked it up anyway just to be sure -- hummingbirds get so cold so fast that if it was alive, it would need the warmth.
She was a female rufous hummingbird, bright green on her back, with a bit of orange on her sides. I nestled her gently in my hand, and she blinked. As I held her, I could feel her heart shuddering her whole body. It's never clear whether a bird in this state is going to recover from the impact, or whether it's going to sink. So I held her, being careful not to squeeze. For several minutes we stayed like that, and gradually her head straightened up and she began to look around. I noticed her clear strip of tongue was protruding, so I ran a finger lightly against the tip to encourage her to draw it back in. She did. She adjusted her perch on my hand a couple of times, but wasn't eager to leave.
The cat, meanwhile, had found a front row seat in the window, and was watching from inches away. His clear opinion was that I should bring the bird in and let him tend to her, but I ignored him. By this time, my hand was open and the hummingbird was perching on it and looking around. She shook out her wings once or twice, but didn't try to take off. I was crouching right beneath the feeder she had been trying to visit when she crashed, so after awhile I thought I would see what would happen if I stood up and offered her a perch on the feeder.
She liked that idea, and lifted herself off my hand, hovering in the air for a few seconds, facing me -- as if to say thank you. Then she made a hard left turn and deposited herself on the feeder perch. I stood there a few inches from her to make sure none of the other hummingbirds tried to run her off. She drank deeply, and then she zipped away.
Total time: about ten minutes. I didn't have my camera with me -- but she looked just like this. --EO