When Joey came in the kitchen door my heart sank. His hands were cupped protectively in front of him. I knew from a vast store of past experience that something from the animal kingdom was involved. The something would be tiny and wild. The something would wiggle its way into our hearts and then die a horrible death, resulting in family-wide depression.
He gave me that look. Joey has watched so many hours of nature programs he can effortlessly channel the desperation of an endangered specie out of his eyes (which are as blue as the towering skies over the Serengeti). He didn’t even take off his backpack, just opened his cage of bony fingers to reveal a hummingbird, no bigger than your average-sized Cheeto. It was dark with spiky little pinfeathers emerging; an ugly little thing.
Me: Oh great, where did you find that?
Joey: In the green field.
We creatively christened the grassy retention area near our home as, “The Green Field” many years ago. The Green Field has yielded a wealth of animal life over the years, including but not limited to: a turtle, someone’s spare dog, someone’s spare cat, a snake and two teenagers making out. It is a regular wild kingdom.
Me: Well turn around, march right back and stick it in the tree.
Joey: But I looked for a nest and there wasn’t one.
Me: Well anyone can make a nest, go get some dryer lint and we’ll improvise.
Me: It’s going to die, look it has jaundice.
Joey: All baby hummingbirds have yellow beaks.
Me: What do they eat?
Joey: Sugar water and (mumble mumble).
Me: Well, I guess we could do sugar water…hey, what was that last thing you said?
Joey: Uh, just some, just a few, uh…pulverized spiders.
Due to my advanced years and general lethargy, our foster bird came home to roost. He slept in a lovely black box amid twigs and grass. He willingly threw his little noggin back to sip eye droppered sugar water. We (shudder) killed daddy long leg spiders for him. He didn’t think much of the legs, but liked the squishy middles okay. Generally though, he was a typical hummingbird-kid, and sugar water was his preferred beverage. His spiky feathers turned a beautiful shimmery blue green. He took little test flights around the house, startling me as he whirred by. I started taking him on field trips to the flower bed, perching him on a little twig in front of an inviting flower. Let me tell you, you can take a hummingbird to nectar, but you can’t make him drink.
Somehow he survived, he even thrived. He had one defect. His chest was completely devoid of feathers. It looked like he had deliberately gone into a plucking frenzy. I wished I could buy him a little gold chain and medallion. It had to be embarrassing trying to impress the lady hummingbirds. But, who knows, he may have started a trend. Soon, he started flying out of the yard, coming home several times a day to belly up to the hummingbird trough. Eventually, he started staying out all night, hanging out with the other recently emancipated foster birds. Now he doesn’t even call.
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