One morning in July 2012, I was bringing water around to the area in front of the house where we tied Rebecca before heading off to the store when I spotted a small unusual object. It was a ruby-throated hummingbird laying still and lifeless in the grass.
With our five cats uppermost in mind, I quickly picked up the tiny bird. I was relieved to discover that it was alive but stunned. I assumed it was a youngster who hadn’t learned to fly well yet, although it was brightly coloured (green with a bright red “scarf” around the throat).
I handed the bird to Ian then ran into the house to grab the small cage from the bird room. We gently laid the little fellow on a towel inside the cage and headed off to the store. It seemed wise to keep an eye on him, although I was reluctant to remove him from his home base in case he had a mom around who would miss him. But with our cats out and about, we didn’t have much choice.
The hummingbird sat up independently but was still very quiet. Then he began to take short flights around the cage. I gave him a little nectar (sugar melted in boiling water – one to four ratio) in a hummingbird feeder that totally dwarfed him. Soon he became more active and for longer stretches of time.
We put his cage outside, and he really came to life. He began hovering in mid-air at the very top of the cage. We began to wonder if he wasn’t an adult who had just been stunned rather than a baby who hadn’t learned to fly well yet.
When his hovering and humming became more intense, we decided the time had come to release him. We removed the top of the cage, and the little bird shot straight up in the air as if he had been shot out of a cannon.
Our new hypothesis was that he had flown into the window of the house, as we had found him just outside the den window.
I began putting out hummingbird nectar more regularly and in more places around the store, hoping our new friend would partake.
We attracted several feathered diners, and a few were fairly aggressive! We hung one feeder at the front of the store so that we could watch them, and it wasn’t unusual for them to dive bomb each other around the entrance door, whether customers were around or not. They were bold and had little fear of humans.
We have noticed a larger population of hummingbirds in Nova Scotia than we did in Ontario, likely because of the milder climate.
And the hummingbirds stay around longer here. In Ontario, they were usually gone by the end of August, but in our part of Nova Scotia they often hang out until late September and even early October, again because of the warmer temps.
We’re looking forward to the arrival of our hummingbird friends this coming spring in our new location. It would be great if our little ruby-throated hummer from Hillsburn took a detour this year and decided to set up shop in Smith’s Cove!