It’s that time of Summer when fledglings have left the nest - adolescent birds of all varieties are trying to figure out life within their flocks and in their worlds. They no longer rely on their parents for food and some of them are preparing for their first migration of their busy little lives. At our house, we have at least two different species of hummingbirds battling over our two feeders, with dozens of little buzzing birds flitting about at crazy speeds with magnificent maneuvering abilities as they chirp and yell and chase each other for hours each day.
I can’t help but wonder at the incredible amount of energy they expend just competing over nectar!
So we spend our afternoons marveling at the hummingbird chaos and standing and walking slowly since they are like little flying needles in the air! And they zip crazily close to your face!
The other day we’re sitting and enjoying our usual afternoon beer on the deck and watching the battles commence, and one little hummingbird clumsily flew up to the feeder, just barely hanging on. His wings were spread out in an awkward way, and he sat for a very long time, his eyes half-closed. We both have years of experience in animal care and it was obvious something was wrong with this little bird.
We ended up scattering all the other hummers from the area and gently moving the entire feeder onto our table on the deck, and little ADR (Ain’t Doin’ Right - that’s an official animal care term) hummer stayed perched the entire time. We set up a barrier in front of him so the other hummingbirds wouldn’t mess with him, and we went about our homestead chores - checking on him every so often. After we finished watering the garden and taking care of our animals, we went back to the deck and he was still perched on the feeder, eyes closed, breathing heavily. I told my partner, “I don’t think he’s long for this world.”
We sat with him. He eventually got weak enough that he fell off the feeder, at which point I gently picked him up and held him in my hands. For about 10 minutes we simply held space for him. He rolled around in my hands a bit, and would perk up if he heard the other hummingbirds chirp. Eventually, he put his little head down and took his last little hummingbird breath. I told him, “I hope you’ve lived a very long and fulfilling hummingbird life.” We then marveled at the beauty of his feathers before we dug him a tiny shallow grave and returned him to the Earth.
It was a very calming experience. This was not the first time a hummingbird has died in my hands, among a plethora of other animals in my life, and I’ve always found it an interesting experience when a wild animal (in particular) trusts me to witness them cross over. It got me thinking about the idea of bearing witness. Simply being there - holding space - allowing another being to process their journey - without interference. I facilitate a women’s trauma support group once a week and I try to operate the same way in those times - sometimes someone simply needs someone to Listen. This little hummingbird, while he certainly didn’t need me, somehow trusted me to allow him to cross over as peacefully as possible.
Who, or what, have you been available to bear witness to recently? Tell me about it.
Stefanie, trained in traditional Usui Reiki methods, with additional training in working with the chakras and the elements, has an incredible passion for helping others on their healing journeys, with an empathetic heart and absurd amounts of compassion. Stefanie lives in SW Colorado on a two-acre off-grid homestead with her husband, their rambunctious pit-mix, Loki, a comical flock of ducks and chickens, and two buzzing beehives.