The Little Jewel in Our Yard

by Mikaela Innes | Jul 1, 2022 | 0 comments

Juvenile female Rufous Hummingbird
Juvenile Rufous Hummingbird. Photo © Mikaela Innes.

A sharp peep sounded in my ears. What was that? I wondered, as I hurried into the kitchen to investigate.

At the kitchen window, my two younger sisters were gazing through the glass and calling with delight,” It’s a baby!”

“What’s a baby?” I said, coming to the window.

“It’s a baby hummingbird,” they announced.

Sure enough, there was a female juvenile Rufous Hummingbird in our flower garden. Perched atop a bright purple petunia, the bird opened its beak and peeped.

I used to think a hummingbird’s beak was like a butterfly’s proboscis. But no, a hummingbird can open its beak like other birds. As I watched this little bird, I recalled how amazingly God made the hummingbird’s beak and tongue. At the tip of a hummingbird’s beak is a small groove through which the bird can slide its tongue in and out. This is how it can draw nectar into its mouth with its beak closed.

The hummingbird’s tongue is just as unique. A hummingbird draws nectar into its mouth by using its tongue. The end of its tongue is split (kind of like a snake’s), and on the “V” of the split are tiny hair-like lamellae that catch and trap the nectar for the hummingbird to draw back into its mouth.

I stood there marveling at all this as I delightedly watched our juvenile hummingbird try to eat from a flower.

I slipped into my room and grabbed my camera. Then all three of us went outside to enjoy watching the little bird more. As we got closer to the little hummingbird, we noticed it didn’t know how to get nectar from the center of a flower. It kept stabbing its beak through the petals, trying to find where the nectar was.

We also observed that this little bird was learning how to fly and land properly. It would test out its wings, beating them a little before taking off. Most birds flap their wings up and down, but a hummingbird beats its wings forward and backward in a figure eight motion. This is what enables it to hover.

As we studied the hummingbird, we realized she must have just left the nest, because she hadn’t learned how to care for herself yet. As we watched her, the little thing flew into our planter box and began groping among the chives and onions; she obviously didn’t know how to find flowers either.

“Oh, let’s teach her how to find flowers and how to eat from one,” my sister exclaimed as she picked a beautiful speckled petunia. She carefully held it out in front of the little bird. The hummingbird saw it and came fluttering over, and my sister got to feed it. She gently guided the flower so it could eat from the center and get the food it so very much wanted. Then she remarkably coaxed the tiny bird onto her finger. As we watched, she lifted the little hummingbird with the flower out of the planter box, holding a hummingbird for the very first time. It brought such happiness to her face to have the little wee feet on her finger.

My sister carried the hummingbird over to us, and we helped it get some nectar from our red hummingbird feeder. After a bit, it flew onto my other sister’s arm and, having a full stomach, it fell asleep there. It was so captivating to take my sister’s picture with the sleeping Rufous Hummingbird on her arm.

As we watched it sleep, I told my sisters about the radiant feathers on its back. Did you know that a hummingbird’s feathers are like a prism? They split the light, giving the hummingbird its vibrant colors that change as the hummingbird moves.

Over the course of the next few hours, my sisters and I were able to teach this little jewel how to find food on its own and how to feed from a flower. It knew how to find our feeders, and the next several days we saw her, from time to time, sitting on our hummingbird swing next to her favorite feeder. My sisters and I felt overjoyed to have the privilege of helping this little female Rufous Hummingbird, and we are very grateful to God for giving us this opportunity.

Female juvenile Rufous Hummingbird
Juvenile Rufous Hummingbird. Photo © Mikaela Innes.

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