To Catch a Hummingbird

PictureThis is what I imagine the hummingbird is doing now.

I’ve often found myself helping animals deal with the modern world. I’m not sure I save all of them but I help them get out of places that pose a danger, like my building lobby.

I live in a building with tenants who like to prop open the front door. It’s an innocuous act on the surface, but our lobby is two stories high with floor to ceiling windows. I guess this looks to a bird like a nice place to fly through. Little do the tenants know how many times I’ve had to capture, wrangle, or chase birds out of the building. And that’s where my hummingbird adventure began.

I walked out of my second floor apartment to the lobby, where I saw a hummingbird desperately trying to get out. I was in a hurry to get someplace, so I crossed my fingers and hoped it would find its way out before I returned. It did not. Dammit.

I saw the hummingbird still trying to escape and knew that once again it was up to me, and this was intimidating. Not because I was worried about the dangers of trapping a vicious hummingbird, but because they look so fragile. It kept hitting its thin beak on the window, so I knew eventually it was going get hurt.

My usual tactic with birds is to take a laundry basket and a towel, trap them in the basket, then cover them with the towel and take them outside. So I went to my apartment, gathered what I needed and came back. I chose a bright blue towel in the hopes that maybe it would think the towel was a giant flower and land on it. As I waited the bird eventually worked itself into a spot where I could cover it with the laundry basket. Success! Or so I thought. As I walked down the stairs the brave bird snuck through one of the laundry basket holes. Back to square one.

I realized I needed something with smaller holes, so I grabbed my cat carrier. After a few minutes of further chasing, the bird landed on my towel. As I tried to put it in the carrier, I realized the towel was way too heavy and large, and I was afraid I was going to hurt him. The bird tired of my attempt and flew away. So I got a smaller towel, went back to lobby, and waited.

We were in the upstairs part of my lobby, which allowed it to go over to the two-story windows to avoid me. I decided to sit down to try to let the bird know I wasn’t a threat. It seemed to be getting the idea as it would fly over to the balcony rail,  chirp at me, then fly back to the large window where I couldn’t catch it. This went of for some time, until it landed on my shoulder. That’s correct. A hummingbird landed on my shoulder. I stood there, not sure what to do, until it got bored and flew off again. The bird went back to his ritual of flying over to the guardrail, chirping at me, then back to then window. After a few more minutes of this, it landed on my head. This time I thought I’d just walk down the stairs and out the door with a hummingbird standing on my head. But apparently hummingbirds don’t like to hang out on heads for very long. As I walked down the stairs the bird flew back to the window. Dammit!

Eventually it flew near me and came to a stop long enough for me to take my towel and gently wrap it up. I was petrified I was going to hurt it, so I rushed down the stairs and outside. As I opened the towel, the little bird briefly looked at me, then flew up into the flowered trees across the street. I’ve seen a few hummingbirds in that tree since then, and they occasionally fly up to my balcony. I like to think they are just coming by to say hello and let me know it all worked out.