Two years ago, about this time of year, I had an juvenile Rufous Hummingbird visiting my backyard feeder. Late November and Nebraska are not the best combination for a hummingbird. Once this little bird started to struggle and the outlook for its survival over the winter became dim, it was deposited at the Henry Doorly Zoo. Here, the bird found refuge at the butterfly pavilion.
Last week, I was back at the Henry Doorly Zoo. I inquired whether the little hummingbird was still around and I was pleased to hear she was still alive and kicking. I stopped by to say hello and I snapped a few pictures.
Most Rufous Hummingbirds winter in southern Mexico. Anymore, it is not wildly unusual for a Rufous Hummingbird to be found in northern latitudes in late fall/early winter in the eastern United States. They generally will stick it out as long as they can, but all or nearly all wayward Rufous Hummingbirds die (at least those in the north country, such as Nebraska). This is how nature works. This bird was set on a different course because it could have value as an educational bird. Now two years later, this Rufous Hummingbird has probably been seen by thousands of people inside the zoo’s popular butterfly pavilion. Thus, the little story has a nice ending. However, I wonder how many of these people had not seen a hummingbird in the wild before going to the zoo?
Being reunited with the Rufous Hummingbird was excellent, but seeing Red-legged Honeycreepers up close was not all bad either.
Note: If you have a issue with a wild bird, either similar to or different than the one discussed above, please contact the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before taking any action. Native birds are protected by federal and/or state law and if any action is warranted, it should be done so in a proper manner.