Birding Notes

Reflections on birds and other wildlife on the edge of a southern woodland

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hummingbird in the House

This morning our front door stood open for several minutes while a new sofa was being delivered. It wasn’t until the delivery-men had left and I closed the door that I heard a funny buzzing way up near the high ceiling of the entry-way – and looked up to see a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird fluttering frantically.

I immediately opened the door wide again, but the Hummingbird showed no interest in flying down. It beat its wings and went all around the ceiling and corners, seeming convinced that the only way out would be up. When I went upstairs and stood on the landing, it flew over my head and buzzed against the ceiling there, and two or three times stopped, resting on the molding, almost close enough for me to reach out and touch.

I wasn’t at all sure what to do and worried that it would injure itself by battering against the ceiling. I don’t have a butterfly net and couldn’t think of anything else like it that might work. Finally – after closing the doors to all other rooms upstairs – I got a very loose, fluffy blue duster on a long pole, and fastened a large red ribbon around it. I also opened a bright red umbrella downstairs near the open door and spread out a big sheet of red paper over the doormat.

Then I stood at the railing on the second-floor landing and extended the duster toward the Hummingbird, very carefully, not touching it, hoping maybe just to nudge it in the right direction. At first, it continued to move around against the ceiling, avoiding the duster. Then to my amazement, it settled on the pole, just underneath the duster and clung there.

Very slowly, I lowered the pole, not really thinking it was possible that the Hummingbird would continue to hold on – but it did. It allowed itself to be lowered on the pole, as if calmly taking an elevator, until it reached the open doorway – and there, it flew immediately out the door and settled on one of the coral-pink blossoms outside that had attracted it to begin with. When I walked downstairs to close the door, it was still perched there on the flower. It looked up at me quickly, then turned and flew in a straight line away.

I still can hardly believe that it allowed itself to be lowered on the pole in this way and have no idea why it worked.

Later in the day, when I was sitting on the porch beside the New Guinea impatiens plants with the pink blossoms, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird came zooming low over my head to check out the flowers again – probably the same one, though I don’t know that for sure.


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