Mar 20, 2015

Hummingbirds: My Winter Guests

by Arnette Heidcamp

Lovely little book written by a wildlife rehabber who specializes in the smallest of birds: the hummers. At first she just fed hummingbirds in her yard, then began tending to injured ones in her open sunroom. She became known as the lady who ran "Hummingbird 911" and this book describes a number of hummingbirds she cared for overwinter, so they could be released in spring when they were done healing and recuperating. The birds included a nestling found when a tree was cut down, a bird that was found severely injured after apparently running headlong into a window, one caught by a cat, and several others found wandering off-course when winter began, weakened without the reserves to migrate successfully. In each case the author describes how she fed and tended to the tiny birds- often having to invent new methods to safely handle them, due to their size. For example, one injured bird that could not preen got its feathers individually dried with a sable paintbrush. Another that needed extra protein (hummingbirds eat a surprising number of small insects such as gnats, whitefly and aphids) got fish food crumbled into its nectar solution. I learned a lot from her book about hummingbirds- their needs, biology, behavior and little quirks. I would like to read her other books especially the first one, because she glossed over a lot of details in this one that I bet were explained more thoroughly earlier- such as how she managed to get such sharply detailed photographs.

There was one interesting passage where she talked about the patterns of hummingbird migration, how certain species were being seen outside their usual area, speculating that they were expanding their range. While she couldn't help assisting the lost and injured hummers, she also wondered about the effects of humans intervention- rescuing the unfit birds where nature would have weeded them out, making the species as a whole stronger.

Rating: 3/5     204 pages, 1997

1 comment:

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

Oo, I bet my dad would love this. He and my mum very very occasionally get hummingbirds in their yard, for a brief window of time, and he's always SO excited about it. (So am I -- hummingbirds are amazing.)