Hummingbird rescuing in AF - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Topstory

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Hummingbird rescuing in AF

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Posted: Thursday, March 11, 2010 12:00 am

When Chris Hennessey and his co-worker found two hummingbirds that had flown into their office window it was too late to save one of the birds, but the second bird was only stunned, and thanks to Hennessey’s efforts and the expertise of two local bird experts, the hummingbird is on a slow road to recovery.

“I’ve found birds with broken wings in the past, so I knew to call Paul and Gloria at Wild Wing Rehabilitation,” Hennessey said.

Paul and Gloria Halesworth have been rehabilitating hummingbirds and songbirds for nine years out of their home in Ahwatukee Foothills, and they took the injured hummingbird in immediately.

“This time of year is mating season, and the hummingbirds get to fighting amongst themselves and forget to look out for dangers around them like windows, buildings or cats,” Paul Halesworth said.

The hummingbird Hennessey found is currently recovering with several others at Wild Wing Rehabilitation. After he has healed, the Halesworths will release him back into the wild.

“They’re like teenagers,” Paul Halesworth said. “You can tell when they’re feeling better because they get agitated. We let them out in places that are close to food sources.”

Living in urban areas is actually better for hummingbirds than being in the desert.

“They do better in the city because there are lots of flowers and insects for them to eat,” Gloria Halesworth said. “The local population of hummingbirds has actually increased over the past few years, although the populations of true desert birds like quail and roadrunners have decreased.”

One common mistake people make that endangers hummingbirds is placing hummingbird feeders near their windows. While it is nice to watch the hummingbirds feed, when they fly close into the feeder they run the risk of crashing into the window.

Last year the Halesworths took in 169 hummingbirds, and they eventually released 92 of the birds into the wild. According to Paul Halesworth, many people believe hummingbirds to be frail, but they are actually quite resilient.

“Hummingbirds only weigh one quarter of an ounce, but they can fly 800 miles or more at once,” he said. “Our hummingbirds here in the Southwest don’t migrate, but some American hummingbirds migrate all the way down to Colombia.”

When people find an injured or orphaned hummingbird, the best course of action is to gently pick them up and place them in a small container. Lightly laying a facial tissue over the bird will help keep it warm, dark and quiet.

“Wildlife animals are supposed to be kept wild,” Gloria Halesworth said. “Letting a bird get friendly or having it perch on your finger is basically like giving it a death sentence.”

The Halesworths are licensed federally and by the state of Arizona to rehabilitate birds, and during their busy season they typically work with the birds 16 hours each day.

“It’s not easy to be a bird rehabilitator, but this isn’t for dabblers,” Gloria Halesworth said. “Saving their lives and releasing them back into the wild is incredibly rewarding.”

If Ahwatukee Foothills residents find injured birds, Wild Wing Rehabilitation can be contacted at (480) 893-6660.

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