by Theresa “Terry” Masear [598.764 Mas]
When my family first visited Estes Park, CO in the early 1980s, I was astonished at the number of hummingbirds which could be seen both at feeders and in the wilderness of that Rocky Mountain area. Growing up in Lincoln, NE, I couldn’t remember ever having seen a hummingbird, live, before — not surprising since we’re on the westernmost fringes of the flight path of the ruby-throated hummingbird, which is the only hummingbird native to the eastern United States. But, from the Rockies to the west coast, you can see examples of as many as 14 other hummingbird species. I read and enjoyed Arnette Heidcamp’s A Hummingbird in My House and Hummingbirds: My Winter Guests, in which the author recounts her adventures in rescuing a very small number of these flying jewels. I thought her efforts were impressive and inspirational. And then I read The Fastest Things on Wings, Terry Masear’s recent autobiography about her experiences as a hummingbird rescuer/rehabilitator in Hollywood, CA. Masear has rescued literally thousands of these beautiful birds, who have fallen victim to collisions with windows, polluted food, nests blown from trees in storm, or carelessly cut out of trees by tree-trimmers. Masear makes every story shared into an emotional journey, sharing psychological insights into the personalities of the people who either bring her injured or orphaned hummers, or who call her, begging for instructions and assistance.
Masear’s tales are tied together by her relationship to two specific hummingbirds — Gabriel, the first bird she ever rescued, who ultimately becomes the catalyst for her investing more than three months of her life every year to the feeding, housing and then release of hundreds of birds. And Pepper, an injured hummer whom she trains to fly again, and whose resilient nature and willingness to help other birds reveals more about the range of differences between individual birds that any casual birdwatcher would see. And that is the emotional and heart-lifting crux of Masear’s book — although not every bird survives the circumstances that bring them to her care, so many of them have such distinct and unique personalities and behaviors that you find yourself emotionally invested in her stories. Highly recommended — one of my favorite reads this year!
[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try any of the hummingbird rescue books by Arnette Heidcamp.]
[ publisher’s official Fastest Things on Wings web page ] | [ Terry Masear’s official Hummingbird Rescue web site ]
See more heartwarming books about animal-human relationships in the booklist for Scott’s past booktalk, Creature Comforts
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library
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