Background Switcher (Hidden)

Release Day

Monday, July 27, 2009

The hummingbird had been sitting in a glass tank for nine days, and flying in the screen tent for two weeks. In all that time she'd never begun to calm down, never accepted me as a helper or friend; she just wanted out, out, out. She was wild, crazy. Still, even after release, I hoped she’d stay around, hoped I’d be able to pick her out of the throngs of hummingbirds around the front porch feeders. We rolled back the tent walls and tied them up.

I sat in the farthest corner with a camera in my hand and tears already starting in my eye. She perched, considering the void, then launched herself through the birch branches and up, up, up into the clear air. You can just see her disappearing in the top left corner. This is the last picture I took of her. She leveled off at about 70 feet and lined out for the northeast, and that was the last we ever saw of her. That was fine with me. Seeing her go was its own reward.

She'd never been the type to hang around to say thank you, anyway.


She's probably out on a branch telling her story to a rapt hummingbird audience right now: "See there was this lady and her kids, and oh yeah, some sort of big black-and-white, smooshed-faced rat, and oh man were they all hyper!"

On behalf of said hummingbird, let me say...

Thank You!!

Perhaps she had been caring for a nest when injured. Tragically that wouldn't be there, but the drive inside her would be!

It is so hard to let them go, isn't it. Children, hummingbirds--hard hard hard.

Ungrateful little wretch! (j/k)

Isn't that just the best, to see them anxious to go and zooming off at top speed? You know you done good, even if you did infect her with BT traits. I'm sure she wasn't so HYPER until she met Chet.

Thanks for another success story,


I echo Possumlady's comment...thanks!

Them hummers is cranky.

Great job!


I don't know much about the ins and outs of rehabilitating wounded birds, and I'm puzzled about your hummingbird (how long you kept her *in* before letting her *out*!) If I had had your hummingbird and it was flying like crazy in the tent, I don't think I could have resisted letting her out much sooner than two weeks. Can you tell us why you didn't let her out sooner? What did you see about the bird that told you she wasn't ready to be released earlier?

Martha, those are good questions. Much of what rehabilitators do is based on gut instinct, and knowing that a bird has to be as near 100% capacity as possible before it's releasable. I wanted better flight speed and I wanted the head tilt to go away, or at least get to the point where I felt it was not interfering with feeding and locomotion. She spent 9 days in a fishtank and two weeks in the flight tent. She probably could have stayed in the tent a little longer. However, there comes a point where the bird is stabilized, and you don't see noticeable improvement, and you're balancing getting her better with watching her lose her edge through too-long confinement. That's the wire you walk. You never know if you're doing the right thing, really, but I knew one thing for sure: she was better off after her three weeks with me than she was when she came in. I think she'll be just fine.

[Back to Top]