Friday, February 20, 2015

Hummingbirds: My Winter Guests by Arnette Heidcamp

I have been at the Thomas Ford Memorial Library for over twenty years and weeded/inventoried the nature books several times. So I must have held Hummingbirds: My Winter Guests by Arnette Heidcamp several times before I plucked it from the shelf early in February. I did not recognize it. I wondered why I had not read it yet. I checked it out.

Over the years, I have read several bird rescue books, including The Bluebird Effect by Julie Zickefoose and Corvus: A Life with Birds by Esther Woolfson. I am always charmed and fascinated by stories in which caring people nurse injured birds back to health, whether for returning to the wild or for adoption into a human households when release is not possible. These stories usually have everything you want in good stories: tragedy, comedy, and unforgettable character (usually of the avian kind).

In her third hummingbird book, Heidcamp is the bird rescuer. She is known in her New York community and into New England for her unique calling and recalls that various members of the local police had started calls to her asking if she were "Hummingbird 911." In Hummingbirds: My Winter Guests, she takes four hummers (two ruby-throats and two rufous) into her sunroom for the duration of a winter. The little birds may be cute, but they do not get along.

Heidcamp's book is nearly 20 years old at this point, and few libraries still have it, but it does not seem dated. The color photos are remarkable, freezing the energetic birds hovering over flowers and feeders, showing their brilliant feathers, and documenting their previously unobserved interactions. It is just the kind of book a bird watcher loves.

Heidcamp, Arnette. Hummingbirds: My Winter Guests. Crown Publishers, 1997. 204p. ISBN 0517708841.

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