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Hummingbird Hospital Part 2

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The injured hummingbird was feeding herself a much more wholesome preparation of Nektar-Plus by Tuesday afternoon, and when I saw her hobble over to the feeder and insert her bill for the first time, I smiled and said, “You can stay as long as you need to, as long as you can do that.”

She tried to fly, little buzzing sorties against the tank walls, and as she fussed it became clear that she had problems beyond simple starvation and exhaustion. Her head tilted to the right, and when she tired, she wound up in a heap again, tail spread, wings out, lying on her belly. It would be awhile before I’d know if she’d be releasable.

She was to spend nine days fretting in her tank, so excitable that I had to keep her in the back bedroom during the day lest she buzz and buzz herself to exhaustion. Her
injury was a concussion with brain swelling, probably from banging her head on a ceiling while trying to find a way out of the chemical plant. She had trouble using her right foot, and her head canted well over to the right.

But the tilt lessened day by day, and when she was able to hold it straight most of the time, she graduated to the soft nylon flight tent that I’ve used for several other hummingbirds and most notably for six chimney swifts and a pair of orphaned phoebes. Available from Campmor, 17 x 19 x 7’, and intended to keep mosquitoes and flies off the picnic site, It’s the best $100 I’ve ever spent.

She was very happy to have more space, and happiest of all to see the pots of flowers I had moved into the tent before releasing her.
You can see her hovering right over my head just after release. I haven't even hung up her feeder yet.

She took right to the Million Bells petunias, the blue Laurentia, my peach hibiscus named Mary Alice, and the upright fuchsia called Gartenmeister. When she’d drained them of nectar, she came back for her Nektar-Plus.

Here, Phoebe and Liam wait excitedly for the moment of release. First we must zip the sides closed!


congrats on the successful release!! rehabbing hummingbirds will always hold a special part in my heart.

Oh, I love that shot of Liam, head on his hands, waiting, waiting. What a beautiful boy.

Just amazing!

That is one lucky hummer.

Nice that you have the perfect assortment of blossoms in portable planters for moments like these!

Thanks, Marlene, but I should make clear that she was only being released into the rehab tent, not released into the wild. She still has a very long way to go. My writing doesn't make it clear, but I have several more posts that will.

Also, hearkening back to a previous comment: Nektar-Plus is much too expensive and spoils too easily to be safely used in hummingbird feeders. Think $90 for a jar of the powder that would last maybe a week if you were feeding multiple birds. Nektar-Plus is a specialty product for aviculturists and rehabilitators and zoos. It keeps only about 12 hours, thanks to the protein in the solution. Just plain old white sugar and water, 4 parts water to one part sugar, is all you need for wild hummingbirds. And no food coloring, of course.


My mistake. I am 35 weeks pregnant and have lost all of my brain cells. Seriously... they are all gone. Your post makes perfect sense :-)

Looking forward to more updates.

Poor little bugger - Traumatic Brain Injury. Head tilt and one-sided weakness - classic neuro signs. Hopefully, rest and "tincture of time" will allow her to heal. That, and all the love, flowers, and sugar water she can absorb.


I suspect this lucky hummer will recover due to your devotion and love.

Thanks from all of us out here who understand that it is mall steps, not giant leaps, that really make the big difference.

Just wonderful!


Julie, I really loved this story! I'm glad she's made it to rehab. She certainly can't complain about the facilities--Camp Julie!

Why did putting her in back bedroom keep her calmer--getting her away from noise and people?

I'll look forward to more about this little hummer!

Julie Zickefoose, Hummingbird Hero! So glad to see that she made such great steps to make it into the rehab tent. I can't wait to read more of her journey to recovery.

This is an inspiring story about a teeny little bird and a woman with a great big heart

My heart goes out to the bird and I appreciate your efforts in rehabilitating this cute wonder. I hope she will gather her strength back and get finally released into the wild...Thomas

What a lovely story and a lucky hummingbird. With such a devotion I'm sure it'll get well soon. I'll look forward to reading about its final release into the wild.

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Warms the heart on a cold Alaskan day.

This is amazing! We are rehabbing a female Rufus hummingbird with the same injury. We are on day two and things look hopeful. She is barely making it to the food by herself but she is making improvement.Im going to purchase the rehab tent right now! Thanks. This means a lot to me and my two girls who love birds.

Posted by Kimbirdly May 25, 2014 at 9:37 AM
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