We went to the hill country town of Blanco last weekend, spent three days and came back three pounds heavier (each) from the hard work of sampling creative food and drink. I know, don't say it.
So I hadn't been out front until this morning when I went out to fill the bird feeders.
I could hear a hummingbird war somewhere. They squeak as they duel--diving, thrusting and parrying. But I was caught in my thoughts. Until the nonstop war lasted minutes. That doesn't happen. The birds take rest breaks and usually one flies away to a patch of flowers to refuel.
So I looked up. Between the porch posts the air throbbed from a tiny center of iridescent green thrashing.
I dropped the bags and ran. It was a Ruby-throated hummingbird in a Golden Silk Orb Weaver's web, a web with the strength and flex of outer-space.
I hoped to break the strands and see the bird fly away. But he was too trapped. I caught him as he fell swinging by a strand, and cradled him in my palm, cupping one over the other to give a dark rest.
Denny came out to help. We pulled webbing from his feathers and feet, taking turns holding and wiping, trying for the lightest touch.
Denny told me more than once to get past the emotion, believe we could do it, or we wouldn't. It was hard. This first-year male was healthy and strong, I knew he'd had a good chance of surviving the journey to come. Now he was stuck to my palm and couldn't pull his wings from his sides.
We held him up to the feeder to drink. We tried.
We fed him again and again to keep up his strength but we couldn't get all the glue off and knew the time when we were no longer helping. At Denny's urging I took him to a low, dense shrub, freeing him on a perch, hoping he'd be able to clean himself before he ran out of energy.
If you've ever seen a Golden Silk Orb Weaver spider (Nephila clavipes), you know it's big enough to wrap an ensnared hummingbird after it stills.
Golden Silk Orb Weaver wrapping a captured grasshopper.
But not today.
The hummingbird was gone from the perch the next time I peeked. I don't know how he could have freed himself but I'm hoping, hoping. One more tiny life to fly and breed and enrich the world.
You're hoping too.
Copyright 2009-2010 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.