Bringing Hummingbirds to Life

Several days ago, I got an unusual text-message from my son, asking how he might help a stunned Anna’s hummingbird that had struck his dorm window. Based on his description and a photo, it didn’t look good. The tiny jewel likely hit the glass at 30 miles per hour. Indeed, despite his best efforts, the bird died several hours later. Yesterday, I visited the Pember Museum of Natural History in Granville, NY, and decided to spend time among the hummingbirds in the collection. They, too, were quite dead…and nearly 150 years old. Despite their tattered appearance, specs of red, purple, gold and green flickered on their iridescent throats and backs. My lesson for the week is that, whether dying or dead, it’s hard to bring hummingbirds to life, but it is certainly worth trying.

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18 Comments on “Bringing Hummingbirds to Life

  1. Thanks for your beautiful reflection. It is your eye for the exquisite beauty of all of nature that helps you paint so well.

  2. They are so beautiful, Jean! Look like they could fly right off the page (at 150 years old). I can imagine how distressed Ben would be. xx, Nancy


  3. I have never seen an active hummingbird nest which is my goal each time I go for a walk through my neighborhood. We do have winter resident humming birds in the wet and cold PNW winters so there should be nests nearby. Thank you for sharing your expressive bird sketches…you’ve expressed their delicate appearance. So we’ll. I’m sorry the poor bird ended with death after the traumatic window collision.

    • After seeing these nests, I think finding one in the wild must be nearly impossible. They are so tiny– and I wonder how long they last. I think the only way to find one is to catch a hummingbird in the act of building or tending a nest.

      • I agree. Even trying to follow a hummingbird would be beyond my speed…they dart around so fast it’s almost impossible to keep my eyes on it as it speeds passed me. We have lots of lichen clinging to the tree branches that a small humming bird or kinglet could disappear into…even so, it’s a real treat and entertainment to observe a live hummingbird’s activity in the wild.

  4. So sad it didn’t survive. A similar thing happened to us several years ago. Tho it died, I took the time to study its tiny body. Only a minute or two of course. Then discarded it. But it too gave me insight on the wings and color. Fascinating. Your sketches are so beautiful and dicriptive. I always learn something from them. Thank you Jean.

  5. This is such a beautiful and sad story. I am particularly fond of hummingbirds. I follow a this cam ( every year and watch Ana’s and Allen Hummingbirds lay eggs and raise young. The nests are the size of a quarter and the eggs no bigger than a tic tac!

    Thank you, Jean, for your beautiful renditions of these amazing birds. You seemed to capture their joyful energy,

    • They are beautiful little gems! I am also reading “A Summer of Hummingbirds” about the intersection of a number of prominent 19th Century literary people, including Mabel Loomis Todd, and their shared love of hummingbirds. I suspect you would like the book, too.

  6. What a moral to the story that is…I’m sure he did all the right things but they are such tiny packages. Tough but fragile. It was a nice gesture to spend time with the museum hummers. They seem to be very happy on your pages, Jean. 🙂

  7. My cat caught a hummingbird in the grass and the bird actually played dead so I was able to free it unharmed. It was a gift to see this bird so up close. Your sketches are lovely Jean! 💖

  8. Jean, to paraphrase WILLIAM BLAKE, your amazing humming birds do “kiss the joy as it flies!”

    • Wow…love that phrase phrase! But I must admit that I don’t fully understand the first part of that poem “He who binds himself to joy, does the winged life destroy.” Can you shed light on it for me? Also– I finished Late Migrations– LOVED it! Thank you again!

  9. Pingback: Hummingbird Muse | Drawn In

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