“Oh no! Oh no! Oh no!” I could tell from the tone of my wife’s voice that no one was yet in mortal danger. But something was dreadfully wrong.
“What is it?” I called as I sprinted up the stairs from my office.
“A hummingbird is trapped in the living room!” She stood appalled as she watched him buzz about the ceiling. It was a hot day; all the windows and doors were open. The poor thing had blundered in without knowing he was doing so, and could not find his way out again.
“We must put the cats in the basement, and we must disappear. Then maybe he will calm down enough to look around and see his way out.”
“Shouldn’t we try to shoo him out with a broom or something?”
“No; that will terrify him, and it won’t do any good; he’s too fast for our shooing to work.”
I put the cats in the basement. I retreated to the kitchen; my wife to the foot of the stairs, by the front door. Then I realized that the cats might get out an open door in the basement, so I went downstairs to make sure they couldn’t.
As I came back up, I heard my wife say, “Oh dear! Oh dear!”
“He just fell to the floor. I think he died. I picked him up with a towel and laid it outside. He hasn’t moved, at all. I think he must be dead. Is he dead?”
“He sure looks dead. He isn’t moving, that’s for sure. But sometimes trapped animals go into a sort of coma, that mimics death. It keeps them safe from predators, although not from scavengers.”
“I think he must have had a heart attack. I think he’s dead, the poor little bird.”
“He looks pretty dead.”
“Shall we move him up into the crook of a tree, where he’ll be safer from the neighbourhood cats?”
“I don’t think we should move him. If he is alive, the terror of that could kill him.”
We watched him, heartbroken. His predicament in the living room had been pretty clear. We knew it well.
The sunlight slanted down through the rustling leaves. A car drove by. The fountain chuckled. It was a perfect day. The hummingbird lay absolutely motionless on the towel, just by the fountain. Ten feet away, inside the front door, my wife and I stood like statues, watching him.
Three minutes passed. Nothing had changed.
The hummingbird rose silently swiftly straight into the sky.