A bird in the house: love not tragedy
A rufous hummingbird recently flew through an open window into our house, buzzing around in multi-directions. It wound up beating against an interior window, flying up and down in a vertical line, while giving its characteristic chirp. Wanting to help without terrifying this wee orange flash of a creature, I slid the window across to create a space for it to escape, but the tiny bird continued its up-and-down motion, flapping its wings against the glass. Its deep red neck told me that it was a male.
At one point, the bird stopped and tucked its body into the bottom of the window frame. I thought it might have died from shock since it appeared completely motionless. Then I noticed its minute eyelids blinking every few seconds. I debated whether to scoop up its fragile form but decided that the resulting scare might kill it. (A birding-expert friend later told me that this would have been fine.)
I ended up grabbing a small rectangle of cardboard and aimed it horizontally towards the bird’s feet. Surprisingly, the little winged being climbed onto the edge of my offering and stayed there. I lifted the cardboard into the air, the hummingbird remained on it, and I quickly put them both out the open window. The now-liberated bird flew off. All of this took about two minutes.
Relieved that the bird was free again, I felt delighted to have shared some inter-species cooperation. I didn’t want to think about the symbolism of a bird in the house, as referenced in Margaret Laurence’s book of short stories A Bird in the House. According to this notable piece of Canadian fiction, having a bird fly into a home means that someone dwelling there will soon die.
I prefer to think of the hummingbird as a symbol of joy, magic, and a loving heart. According to the book Medicine Cards, people have used hummingbird feathers for centuries in making love charms; this bird conjures love and opens the heart. Two decades ago, while in Mexico, I remember a Mexican man giving one of my female companions a dried hummingbird as a love token. We laughed at the time, but I was touched by his gesture.
If you’d like to see a short video of a hummingbird mom and eggs with time-lapse footage of her babies growing up and leaving the nest, click here.