Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hummingbird CPR

Emergency Medical Transport
Our friends, John and Jane Ann Johnson are a frequent source of interesting bird observations.  John's extensive training as a cardiologist led to saving a bird's life.  Well, maybe the training didn't have anything to do with it, but the result was still great.  First there was the safe handing of the injured bird- Emergency Medical Transport.  Next came the technical skills needed to safely introduce fluids.  Here is his story:
"Thursday I found another dead hummingbird on the hangar floor. They can never get out, even with both big doors open. This happens once every week or two. I picked her up to toss her in the trash and she flopped once- still alive, barely.
I spent the next 90 minutes with an eye dropper filled with hummingbird nectar trying to revive her. She became more animated, began to flap her wings a bit, and finally flew off. Pretty neat...and surprising."
Catheter skills come in handy
There is a lot of advice available on what to do when you find an injured bird.  Birds have high metabolic rates, requiring lots of food.  Most species have complex diets spanning the range of seeds and insects to fish, small mammals and even scavenging dead animals.

Fortunately, John's bird had relatively simple dietary needs in this crisis.  Hummingbird feeder solution provided both calories and hydration.  Hummers do consume insects, but during the current migration period they mostly need energy in the form of nectar, natural or artificial.

Here are some general hummingbird tips from our own Charley Burwick:
  • Do the right 4:1 water and sugar mixture, do not use red coloring
  • Keep the feeder fresh, usually in hot weather no longer than 2-3 days, clean with bleach, and rinse thoroughly
  • Use a feeder hanging from the garage door, or even on the ground when a hummer is caught in the garage (common occurrence)
  • Keep at least one feeder up until the end of the calendar year, you may get a rufous hummer that migrates this direction in the fall, and some ruby-throated are really slow leaving, especially the females, and first year birds.
Anyone who has ever tried to get a bird to fly out of their house or garage can commiserate with the problem of pointing one out of a hangar.  This is even more complex at the Botanical Center's Butterfly House, a mesh enclosed structure where everything looks like an exit.  I can recall watching a bird flutter around the ceiling of Hammon's Hall during a symphony concert.  Possibly it thought that Camille Saint Saen's suite Carnival of the Animals was on the evening's program.

As with deer in our suburban neighborhoods, we are having to learn to live with nature, and visa versa.  Increasing human populations expand into what was previously wilderness.  As our footprint on the planet increases with larger structures, taller glass buildings and more wind turbines, we will likely have more opportunities to deal with injured birds. has a lot of good information on the care of injured wild birds.

1 comment:

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