As far as the roughed-up hummingbird on my kitchen floor before the paws of our cat Jiggy was concerned, I couldn’t have picked a better time to come get a drink. No doubt had a few more Tuesday afternoon minutes (or even moments) passed alone with the looming feline they would have been its last, but instead of grabbing a Coke Zero I put my thirst on hold and got a hold of the tiny creature.
Was it a chick fresh out of the nest that hadn’t yet found flight? Or was it an adult that Jig — a masterful hunter, with a five-foot vertical leap — had managed to snatch, perhaps straight out of the air? But none of the that mattered so much as it looked OK. Seriously ruffled, yes, but uninjured — at least externally. And seemingly fully relaxed in the palm of my hand, in no hurry to leave.
I have to tell you, there is nothing quite as contradictory as holding what looks to be an exhausted hummingbird looking ready either to die or take a nap, yet feeling its heart beating against the palm of your hand. “Beating” doesn’t do the sensation justice, because even at rest (or perhaps in this case: in relief) this bird’s heartrate doesn’t go lower than 250 beats a minute; maximum somewhere around 1,200 per. This one’s was somewhere between that. It was like the world’s smallest drummer was playing his fastest snare drum roll against the base of my index finger.
After a few minutes of us hanging out like that, we paid a visit to the backyard, where I hoped I might find its frantic momma out there clicking and peeping. There were hummingbirds out there but none showed an interest in this one as their chick, leaving me understanding that I faced the daunting task of caring for this one, or finding an organization better equipped and informed and willing to do so.
Then at that instant, almost as if we were on the same wavelength, the little bird perked up, shook itself fully alert and lifted off from my hand flying strongly up over the blooming bouganvillea, around the nearest palm tree trunk, and beyond it over the giant bird of paradises, lifting my sagging spirits up with it out of sight.