Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Fastest Things on Wings: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood by Terry Maseur

I have read bird rescue stories before, but I never imagined that emergency relief could specialize in just hummingbird rescue. I realize that hummers differ from other birds in some ways and emergency helpers might need special knowledge and skills, but I never realized that there would be enough rescues to keep anyone busy. Obviously I have not lived in the Los Angeles area where there are far more hummingbirds and species of hummingbirds than most parts of the United States.

From reading Terry Masear's book Fastest Things on Wings: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood, I have learned there are many hummingbird-human interactions in L.A., and many end badly for the hummingbirds. Often after trees or shrubs are pruned, nests with tiny hummers are discovered. Unless a homeowner can rehang the nest in its exact previous location (not even a foot away), the parent hummingbirds will never find it. Usually baby hummers will need rescue services after pruning. Other people find their cats have killed parent birds, leaving needy nestlings. Also many adult hummers are stunned or injured from running into picture windows or even moving vehicles.

Masear handles several hundred cases annually. Her Hollywood home is filled with cages and aviaries. An English professor during the rest of the year, she devotes her springs and summers to hummingbird rescue and is often up through the night feeding nestlings or nursing injured birds.

Fastest Things on Wings may sound like just another cute animal book, but it is not. Partly this is due to the hummingbirds not really being cuddly birds. Some are downright mean and attack Masear and other hummingbirds in her care. Another factor is the strange variety of people who contact Masear when birds need rescue. The author fills her book with their desperate stories, giving much insight into living conditions in Southern California.

I found Fastest Things on Wings compelling, entertaining reading.

Masear, Terry. Fastest Things on Wings: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. 306p. ISBN 9780544416031.

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