Three weeks later, the young male Rufous Hummingbird that was one of the subjects of my Extreme Hummingbird Makeover is still here. When I saw a hummingbird on the feeder with a half-naked head, I pointed it out to Tom and said, “What the heck is going on?” We set up the trap and caught him only to discover that he already had a band on. Huge scabs had developed over his right eye, the right side of his crown, and the base of his bill, and his tongue was protruding slightly, suggesting that his condition when when we first encountered him was due to a pox infection in its early stages. Back to the bathroom for some warm water to loosen the dried pus and some eye drops to soothe the sore eye, then a quick blow dry, a long drink of sugar water, and he was on his way again. Removing the dried scabs should help him regain the use of his eye, but I hope that it will also reduce the risk of him passing on the virus to the Anna’s that are visiting the same feeders.
Three weeks is a very long time for a hummingbird in migration to stay in one spot, but it’s also a long time for a hummingbird to survive with one good eye and a bunch of missing feathers. If the weather stays mild over the next couple of weeks, maybe he’ll recover enough to continue his journey south before the first freeze. If not, there’ll be feeders with fresh sugar water for him for as long as he needs them.