Tuesday, March 9, 2010


{In Which A Hummingbird is Caught, Identified & Released}

Sometimes, more often the average bear I suspect,  I have bird run-ins.  The other morning the dogs alerted me to the circumstance of this female Costa's hummingbird, who somehow found herself on the wrong side of my vegetable netting.

Which was a euphoric moment because I am an unabashed bird geek.  At the age of 27 I bear the signs of early-onset grannyhood with pride. I am still learning my desert birds, but after the quailette episode I am well equipped for the catching and releasing of misguided avians. Quick reflexes while sporting a pair of mule skin gloves is a skill honed during a childhood spent around chickens. 

Some facts we should all know about the female Costa's hummingbird:

1. She could fit under an upturned teacup. 
2. She decorates her nest with spider webs, feathers, and lichens. 
3. She has an average wingspan of four precious inches.
4. Her throat area (which is irridescent violet in the male) is called a gorget, pronounced gor-jit.
5. Her resting heartbeat is 500 to 900 beats per minute.

You see, hummingbirds are small, but they are mighty. And beautiful. Like winged emeralds darting across the desert. Like winged emeralds that need to be photo-documented before gently being released back out into a hummingbird world of wildflower nectar and tiny insects.


  1. I miss hummingbirds. And I miss my childhood bird encounters.

    Yours was lovely.

  2. She's beautiful! I love seeing her little toes clamped on the netting.

    We have a hummingbird who loves to sit on our balcony. The first time Dustin saw him, he was in shock "But don't they die if they stop moving?!". Me: "Honey, that's SHARKS, and only a few species of them."

  3. Ahh, my dear. And if one so unfortunately runs into a plate glass window just enough to knock oneself out, pick the little pretty up into your cupped hands and blow warm breath back into it's stunned little life. More than not, it will revive to live another day.

  4. She's just lovely. Hummingbirds are, indeed, mighty. At my last house I had a rambly cottage garden, and hummingbirds aplenty. I was always amazed by the ones who would hover very close to my head while I was gardening. Sometimes it was downright unnerving, like being bombarded by teeny airplanes! But I adore them, and I adore you for saving this little beauty.

    xo Gigi

  5. Your photos of her are exquisite, Lily! What a wonderful encounter! Some day I will have to tell you the story of a hummingbird that got caught in our garage. xo

  6. awww, pretty hummingbird! I had the doors open to let in some nice weather today and a sparrow flew in my studio for a bit - nothing like your hummingbird story, but still a nice little visit. (Maybe she saw the 'Bird for Bread Studio' sign and thought there was food for her here!) XOXO

  7. you're so lucky to have encountered the hummingbird. she's so beautiful and now i know that she's small enough to fit under an upturned teacup! so adorable. i'm a total bird geek now too. growing up, i can't say i was much of one, but my boyfriend's parents are avid birdwatchers. in the spring and summer, we'll visit them in pennsylvania and sit on their back porch watching the hummingbirds buzz around their many birdfeeders for hours. it's become one of my favorite things. also, if you ever go to the monteverde cloud forest in costa rica, visit the hummingbird sanctuary. it's awesome.

  8. small and mighty wins the race...oh lucky hummingbird to be so wodnerfully appreciated by lily...


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