An Overheated Incubator

Last week was very hot in Phoenix. A couple of days were 115 degrees and all days were well over 100. Earlier this spring the weather was beautiful, which motivated some birds into filling their nests with eggs a second time. But now that we have a very hot June, the heat has taken its toll on the inhabitants of our outdoor nursery.

It’s way too hot for baby birds.

Thursday afternoon we found a baby bird (starling? sparrow?) that had fallen from a very high nest. He wasn’t quite a full fledgling yet, and he fell onto our upper deck, which was not a good place for Mama to take care of him. We ended up having to take him to the wildlife rehabilitation facility. Friday morning, his sister found herself in the same situation. She was taken to stay with her brother.

Saturday morning, hubby found a baby that was still a nestling, on the ground. Many baby birds do fall out of the nest before they fly, but he was clearly not ready and looked as if he were dying. I rushed him over to the caring rehabilitation and they administered fluids right away.

Humans have to be careful taking baby birds away from their mothers who may be nearby and feeding them. But in these cases, the heat was going to kill the birds first. Baby birds need some heat to thrive, but too much heat is deadly.

So you might be wondering how the hummingbird babies are doing.

On Saturday, almost exactly a month since the first 2015 batch of hummingbirds left the nest, the second batch followed their siblings out into the big world–or, at least, our neighborhood.

In preparation, Mama fed both babies, as she had been doing since they hatched from their eggs.

Although my videos aren’t very good, they will lead you to quality hummingbird videos posted by other people.

The larger, stronger, bolder brother (they could be sisters or a brother and a sister, but I think they are brothers)began flapping his wings, testing them out, and he gave encouragement to his brother. Then, on Saturday, he flew out of the nest, while Mama and brother watched.

He landed on a rock of our fountain, where he stayed for a few minutes until he got his courage. During that time, Mama flew back and forth between the nest and the rock.

After he flew off to explore, Mama spent several hours coaxing the skinnier, more timid baby from the nest. She fed him a few more times and even groomed him just a bit, as if to say, “I want you to look presentable out there in the world. Appearances matter. Show our predators that you are confident and know how to take care of yourself.” In this photo, she has turned her back on him momentarily, maybe to rest?

I was so impressed that Mama spent so much time with her offspring. She showed him what to do by flying out of the nest and returning to him repeatedly.

Eventually it worked and he flew off when Mama was out of the nest.

When I saw the empty nest I was a little sad, but wait: he came back several times, resting on the edge of the nest.

Saturday night and Sunday he didn’t come back. He’s off discovering his world, too.

All four hummingbirds that were raised in this nest have, no doubt, found the world to be a bit different from that of his siblings. I hope they all find it a pleasant place where they are rewarded for their hard work and don’t find any predators that can’t be avoided.

That’s it now for hummingbirds. It’s too hot to be creative here, but I am going to jumpstart the creativity by taking an online course in “flash essays.” I am hoping to learn how to write in a more cutting edge style. And I think I’m going to need the structure as I can see the summer melting away.

What are your summer plans?



Filed under Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, Inspiration, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing, Writing goals, Writing Tips and Habits

66 responses to “An Overheated Incubator

  1. How nice of you to rescue those tiny birds. That speaks volumes to your character. I hope they’re all okay. As for those temperatures—wowsa, that’s toasty!

    • Yesterday was actually a lot cooler–106 up near the deck and 101 on the ground. Woohoo! Seriously, the heat is hideous. As to the birds, just doing our neighborly job over here. Looking out for the guys who live in our environment.

  2. Let us know how your class goes. I could use some cutting edge myself!

    • I hope it will at least get the creative juices flowing. But I would like to know “how it’s done.” To go without boundaries and yet shape something of value. Hmm.

  3. Did you send that hot air this way, Luanne? For the past ten days or more, we’ve had record breaking temperatures with no relief in sight.I’m glad you took care of the little birdie and the hummies are doing well. Our hummies are going wild in this heat. They’re devouring a full feeder of sugar water each day. My summer plans…writing.

    • Oh, I am sure those little guys need it with the hot weather! This heat is really something, although I can say that I have seen other Junes this hot here since I moved to Phoenix (why, oh why???). I’m so glad to hear you’re writing this summer! I hope you meet all your goals!!!

      • Our temperatures have been more like late July and August. At least we finally got some rain on Friday…of course it made it that much more humid.
        Thanks for the well wishes. The deadline for my book is July 15…so I’m in panic mode. πŸ™‚

        • Oh, I am sure your humidity is terrible. I would be in panic mode, too, but I know you are working hard on it and that you will accomplish a LOT!!! xo

  4. Wow — you certainly kept a close eye on the birds nearby and took big steps to keep them alive. Kudos! Things are so different here where it’s much cooler and birds nest in trees. My feathered visitors today have been cardinals, mourning doves, and house finches. Summer plans…I sure would like to weed my garden, trim my bushes, put down more mulch, do my outdoors house painting, clean my house, and throw out stuff I don’t need. Please note that writing is not on the agenda.

    • We have those birds, too! The mourning doves are fat this year. Hubby finds most of the baby birds. This morning it was a baby lizard that had been in the garage for 24 hours and he wanted help getting it outside. Finally we had to leave the door open, but then of course worry about snakes crawling in . . . .
      Maybe you need to not write this summer? After all, you live in a climate where you can stay inside and write 3/4 of the year! Enjoy your summer and the upkeep work!!!

  5. I really love these hummingbird posts. I’ve been sharing them with my little girls. We’ve got a hummingbird nest in a tree adjacent to our porch. She built it with pine needles, mostly, it seems. I only saw two babies.
    Vacation is nearing, which means summer vacation from school is already almost over! Ugh!

    • What? I know I responded here. Ugh, so much for my iPad. I’m so glad you’ve been sharing the posts. I’m imagining a pine needle nest! Prickly? Does it look as if it is also of cobweb for the stretchiness? Yes, they usually have just two babies! Re summer vacation LOL. When does school start? Around here it is so early in August, right when it’s SO stinken hot. I don’t know how the football players don’t drop like flies.

  6. I loved this post because it is a metaphor for my work this summer, helping my high school graduate daughter fly off to college, and my college graduate son, find his wings as he prepares for medical school. I really connected with your mama hummingbird.

    • It is a metaphor for your life! It’s hard work being a good mama like the hummingbird. Knowing how much is enough, how much is too much, and how much help is just right!! and then letting them fly away knowing they will be out there in the big world!!!!

  7. This just filled me with tears – cycles of life tales always touch my heart, and I love your imaginary Mama conversation. How lucky your own children are to watch you caring for nature’s babies.

  8. Oh, and flash essays is right up my alley!!! Haven’t taken a class but reading ‘experts’ voraciously and practicing. I think i’d stress too much if I committed to a class.

    • A class is good for me because I need the structure. I am a mess without some sort of structure. But I think I rely too much on this stuff. I justify this because it’s “on the edge” essays and I need work on that!!!

      • Yes, the edgy stuff is beyond my ken, but it seems to be what gets published in the literary magazines. I thought I had some wild years but clearly not wild enough πŸ˜€

        Looking forward to hearing some of what you learn!

        • I’m looking forward to it, too, and I hope I can handle it!

          • I didn’t know there were classes that teach edginess!
            I get your point about structure. My husband has been traveling for work for the last 3 weeks and I thought I’d get so much done, but with no one to cook for I feel like a flighty bird. It seems I need that settled end of the day structure to be productive the rest of the day. I already feel edgy!! haha

            • LOL, maybe I ought to take a class in dressing edgy ;). Then maybe my writing would be more edgy!
              Yes, it’s amazing how much I am always wishing structure away and as soon as I don’t have it, I am a wreck.

  9. Well done with the birds. We don’t really need to go away, since we live in one of the UK’s favourite holiday haunts. We do expect a certain number of visitors, though.

  10. Susanne

    I like how you take care of both cats AND birds, Luanne.

    Your on-line course in flash essays sounds interesting and something I’d be interested in doing, too. I’d also like a course on flash fiction. I’m doing an on-line CNF course on experimental forms in July.

    • Hey there, Ms. Susanne, how is the writing going? Experimental forms, huh? You’re not taking it through Apiary, are you? That is the one I’m doing. Flash essays ON THE EDGE. I feel as if I am on the edge in this heat . . . .

      • Susanne

        Come and collect some of the rain we’re having to cool down. I turned on the furnace briefly today, it’s that damp and cool. The writing. Ah. The writing. There’s probably a blog post in there if only I could get around to it….

  11. I think my summer plans involve changing the food in my hummingbird feeder, which I forgot to do this morning! Thanks for the reminder!

  12. That’s so great that you were able to take those baby birds somewhere to be cared for. Hope they’re OK. How fun it must be for you to watch the hummingbirds grow.
    We have a bird feeder at our kitchen window, so we can sit at the kitchen table and watch the birds there. Our cats like it, too. They jump up on the sink to pounce on the glass. πŸ™‚
    A few weeks ago at dinner, we were watching some young birds at the feeder. They were old enough to get to the feeder, but they were still waiting for Momma Bird to feed them, which she did. It was so cute.

    Summer plans–right now I need to finish going through page proofs for my book before our daughter’s wedding! Then I’ll be doing a lot of test writing in July and August.

    Good luck with your course!

    • Oh, I bet your cats like it! One of my cats makes a clicking noise when he sees prey, but since he is only inside, the prey can stick their tongues out at him.
      What a cute story about the baby birds waiting to be fed. Sounds like teenagers!!!!!
      Oh, how exciting about the page proofs! I hope you plan to write an update on the process! And then an exciting wedding. So happy for you, but not for the test writing.

      • Thanks so much, Luanne! You’re very sweet.
        Our cats make that clicking noise, too. Even for bugs. It’s so funny.
        It’s not my first time with page proofs–nothing too exciting to write about. I just have to get it done–before the wedding!
        The test writing pays well. πŸ™‚

  13. I’m glad the hummingbirds successfully made their way into the world, hopefully they’ll be a symbol of your creativity this summer πŸ™‚

    • Andrea, I would love it if that comes true! I will try, although today it’s another scorcher at 112, and I am just fried. And limp. And brainless.

  14. So glad you were there for those overheated little birds, and so happy to hear that Momma Hummer (what a wise momma she is!) has successfully reared another nestful.

    And if it’s too hot to write, dahling, don’t. Lie in the shade in a light cotton dress and run ice cubes over your skin. I’ll pop over with a pitcher of sangria or margaritas and we can *both* complain about the heat. πŸ˜‰

  15. I love watching hummingbirds. When we lived in the SF bay area, we had them almost all year long, and they whizzed by us with ease. Now living in NE, I was so happy to have our first hummingbird visitor in early June, and now they come all day long. The feeder is near our bedroom window, so we can watch their little ‘cat fights’ (very territorial!) and then see them just sucking on that sugar water so gratefully. Kudos to you for saving a couple of the little ones.

    • Pam, I’m so glad you finally got your hummingbirds this year! Ah, I can just see their little fights! They are determined little creatures, aren’t they?!

  16. I love the way you take care of the birds, Luanne. It’s beautiful being that close to nature. I hope the little ones are going well in the rehab facility.

    It’s winter here, but always hot in the tropics. I’m certainly not looking forward to summer xxx

    • I hope they are, too. There isn’t really any way for me to find out. I have to trust that they know what they are doing and that they are doing their best for them. I suspect the first two are doing well, but maybe #3 didn’t make it as he was so tiny, naked, and barely born.
      Another 112 day here today. I am unable to even think today. And my body doesn’t want to move. And I even have air conditioning!

  17. So wonderful of you to take up those little birds. We’ve had to do that a few times over the years. Fortunately, our wildlife rescue is five minutes from our house. They actually caution us against bringing the birds in. I guess for many fledglings, if their nests are nearby they can find their way home or their parents can find them. But cats and other predators roam freely through our neighborhood so it’s not safe to be a fledgling in the bush πŸ˜‰ It’s been hot here too. The humidity is the worst. I’d much rather have dry heat, but it’s typical summer weather for our area. So what course is it you are taking? I feel adrift after my poetry course ended. There’s a Facebook group of those of us who took the course, but apparently I need some kind of deadline to keep working. Too easy to be distracted by other things when I don’t have a deadline ;(

    • Marie, you are so right that too often people bring birds in unnecessarily. These definitely needed it because of the heat (and the 3rd one was clearly dying). You are lucky your wildlife resue is 5 minutes away! Ours is about 15, so still not bad at all!
      I’m taking flash essays on the edge through Apiary. Why don’t you take it, too :)? One week I think we might even do prose poetry, if I remember that correctly! Woohoo!!

  18. I’m glad you with your creature-knowledge was there to take care of the baby birds. I enjoyed the update on the hummingbirds. The Mama bird is a loving Tiger Mom.

  19. You’ve got a heart of gold. I simply adore birds, kind of you to rescue those baby birds!

  20. Luanne those hummingbird babies are so beautiful. Thank you for sharing all your special moments.

  21. Oh, Luanne! I treasured these little hummingbirds stories, 1st to last . I was blessed with this story of hope and resilience. Angels in disguise. We have taken animals in Cleveland to the (my Alma mater/hometown) Bay Village nature preserve. My son once rescued three ducklings whose feet got stuck on the creosote along the railroad tracks. In Delaware, Ohio the pound and separate entity, animal shelter told us to take them back. We cleaned up their precious little webbed feet and then took them back. From a distance, the mama and papa ducks were frantically quacking and pacing back and forth. They seemed to take them back ‘into their fold’ so we quietly walked away. I have a photo of the babies on a towel. πŸ™‚

    • Again, I thought I responded to this comment, Robin! Ugh. Poor little ducklings and so lucky that your son did the right thing twice! How adorable they must have been!
      Animals are so wonderful in their innocence.

      • Don’t worry, Luanne! I hope I wasn’t double commenting to you. This may have been accidental. I do feel at different times my own comments don’t seem to be sent off, sluggish WiFi or something. Just back from my Mom’s where AT&T gets great reception (my brothers and sisters on law’s cell phone plans) but mine had horrible service. Hope the fireworks off balcony were splendid and take care!

  22. Luanne, thanks so much for the update on the hummingbirds – I love the stories about your birds!! I can’t believe the fabulous photos you’ve been getting of them…they really are priceless – you are a wonderful creature advocate!! Bless your heart, as we say in the South.

    • Animals are the best part of our world, I sometimes think. That’s what drew me initially to your blogs b/c I love to see the world through Red’s eyes.

      • I adore Red and his world view. The little guy just keeps flying around sometimes when he gets so happy to see us. The tumor is larger than a baseball now, but he just ignores it…so we try to for his sake, too. Life is hard.

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