August 28, 2012
mmIt was early morning and the sprinklers had just begun glitter-bombing the backyard. I was curled up on the couch with sleep still nested in the corner of my eyes, scrawling out my “morning pages.” Iggy, my calico girl, purred contentedly on one side of me, a steamy cup of freshly brewed coffee sat on the other.
Halfway through my writing, a loud THUNK startled me out of my reverie.
Iggy and I exchanged surprised looks and she joined me as I got up to inspect the patio ground for any possible stunned bird carcasses. The sound came from the French door window, so it stood to reason that one of our feathered friends could have taken a bad turn.
All was clear, or so I thought. As I began sitting down to resume my morning task, I could see from the corner of my eye, Iggy skulking back into the house with something tiny and limp in her mouth. Apparently in the stunned-bird-carcass-inspection department, she was superior to me in every way. But the involuntary scream that left my throat, stopped her in mid triumphant trot and caused her to drop her prize.
Without thinking, I quickly but gently scooped up, what I could now see was, a half-dead hummingbird. I inspected it for signs of life and could just make out a faint flutter of heartbeat. There were no obvious puncture wounds, but the poor thing’s body was completely contorted. The cause of this deformity, it seemed, was a giant clump of sticky spiderweb. The poor, wee thing was completely entwined in this tacky bondage. I laid the hummer down on the closest thing at hand, my notebook, using it as a hospital bed.
The procedure began.
My fingers felt thick and clumsy as I pulled one microscopic strand at a time from it’s delicate wings and it’s teeny, curled up feets. Beads of sweat formed on my upper lip as I pulled, deliberately, piece by piece, with as slight a touch as I could muster, lest I break one of it’s miniature bones. The bird already seemed a goner, as it lay there, limp in my hands, not even flinching.
After a few minutes, or hours, I’m not really sure, Turk (his new name,) jumped upright and started awkwardly flopping around on my notebook. He was understandably upset and I suspect, a bit impatient with my ineptitude. I cupped my hands around him and held him still, hoping to settle his little birdie butt down. Finally, seconds later, he flopped over onto his side and just lay there in my hand.
“Great!” I thought “I’ve given Turk an itty-bitty, cardiac arrest!”
After a bit, I could see he was still breathing and his diminutive heart seemed to be beating normally, (whatever normal is for a hummingbird.) I continued my task, pulling and tugging, ever so gingerly at the demon string. Finally, it seemed, I had loosed my friend from his arachnid-made straight-jacket. But we weren’t out of the woods yet. One more thing to do. I fumbled around for a scissors with one had while cradling Turk in the other. His right wing would have to be clipped. The feathers were stuck together at the end and there would be no flying in that condition. So I held my breath and snipped just the very tip of his miniature wing, mindful not to render him completely flightless with a careless slip.
Cringe. Snip! Ahhhh. Did it!
Turk sat in my right hand, gathering himself. He took several deep breaths (well, deep for a hummingbird,) and just about the time I had figured him too damaged to fly… Vvvvvrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrttttttt… he lifted with a humming sound, from my hand and off he went, making a beeline for the next yard, flying high and proud.
“Good-bye, wee Turk.” I muttered to myself. “See you on the other side.”
“That may be sooner than you think.” Iggy seemed to be saying as she shot me a glowering look and sauntered back into the house.