The recent rains are a welcome sight after years of persistent drought, but they have been hard on our local wildlife. Last week’s storm was very wet and very cold. Two baby hummingbirds, who likely lost their mother to the severe weather, were saved, thanks to the efforts of Sabine Hoppner, Hancock Park’s arborist and her partner Deborah Ross. The Sierra Madre residents were able to save the two tiny hummingbirds chicks, who’d been abandoned just a few days after they hatched.
“We found the nest in an Engelman Oak tree near the house and set up a camera to watch the nest,” explained Hoppner.
They could see the mother bird, who was completely saturated from the heavy, constant rain, struggle to hold her head up and worried that she would be unable to feed her babies who were also drenched in a water soaked nest. After the mother flew away, Hoppner watched to see if she would come back. Fearing the mother had died, Hoppner contact the Los Angeles Hummingbird rescue for guidance on what to do next.
“This amazing woman, Terry, told us what to do if we wanted to try to save the chicks. We cut the tree branch and brought the nest inside the house. We were told these birds are really young and most likely wouldn’t make it, but we could try to help them. If we could get them through the night, they would have a chance to get them to a wildlife rehabber who could take it from there, feeding them a healthier, more complete diet than sugar water.” said Hoppner.
Determined to try, Hoppner made a solution of three parts water, one part sugar and soaked a q-tip. As instructed, she placed the q-tip on the right side of the beak trying to stimulate the chicks to open their mouths. She and Ross tried to feed the birds every two minutes until their crop (the storage area between the mouth of the stomach of the bird) was full. Once full, they fed them every half hour while running an old hair dryer on a low setting to create a warm gentle wind.
Once the baby chicks’s crop was full, they had enough to eat and could sleep for seven hours. After a night feeding the chicks, Hopper and Ross were rewarded as they slowly began to show signs of life and become stronger.
“It was incredible to see the life force come back so quickly,” said Hoppner.
Terry Masear, an amazing person who has dedicated the last 15 years to rescuing hummingbirds, told the Buzz she has received 80 calls over the weekend from people who have found struggling, trapped or dying birds.
Los Angeles is blessed with one of the world’s largest populations of hummingbirds because of our temperate climate and the wide range of plant life, much of which has been introduced by humans, explained Masear. Hummingbirds are also excellent at reproduction. They will have three, sometimes four, clutches of eggs each year and they build nests everywhere in our urban environment. As a result, Masear gets calls from people who have found nests on their porches or patios or have birds trapped in their skylights or hallways. She got three calls while she was speaking to us this morning!
Masear told us she has saved over 2,000 birds by talking people through situations. About half of the time, Masear can help people over the phone telling them what to do to re-nest the birds. In fact, her goal is to help people keep the birds in the wild.
“The last resort is to bring a bird in for rehabilitation, it’s better for the birds and we don’t have enough resources to take care of all the birds. There is one rehabber in Glendale and other one in Huntington Beach,” explained Masear. “We are all volunteers and donations are deeply appreciated.”
“It was so rewarding to help the baby chicks survive,” Hoppner told us.
Thanks to Cindy Chvatel-Keane for telling about this amazing rescue and for Sabine and Deborah for sharing their photos. You can learn more about Masear and her work at the Los Angeles Hummingbird rescue. You can help out by looking for these amazing creatures in your yard. And one more thing: don’t trim your trees in the spring!
“I like to remind people, you own the land, but you don’t own the wildlife. Let’s respect them and allow them to live with us,” said Masear.
Thanks for sharing loved this story!