Hummingbirds spread the word about rescuer

  • By Sharon Wootton Herald Columnist
  • Friday, July 6, 2012 3:31pm
  • Life

Sometimes a story comes along that’s just begging to be told, even when it’s ancient history. Connie Jones’ story is proof of the lasting value of amazing nature stories.

As she puts it, “Seems like yesterday.”

She and her husband, Joseph, were field station directors for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry at a site near the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in east-central Oregon.

Early on an August evening, Connie Jones noticed a male Rufous hummingbird making huge ellipses in front of a western juniper tree. Since it was late for a courtship display, she pulled a few lower juniper branches aside.

“I found a female Rufous hummingbird lying spread-eagled on the ground bound in a black widow (spider) web, with the female (spider) sitting in front of her as she struggled to free herself.

“She was extremely tangled and could only vibrate,” Jones wrote.

Jones rescued the bird and took her to camp where Joseph Jones was about to lead an evening hike.

“With all the students watching, he teased off the very strong web with his tweezers, eventually freeing her.

“During this process she did not struggle at all. Setting her on his hand, she sat there for about a minute and then flew away, to the cheers of everyone,” Jones wrote.

“Eight days later, Joseph was in the dining hall (which was open to the outside) just before 6 p.m. when a male Anna’s hummingbird flew in and landed on its belly on the counter next to him.

“Rather surprised, he looked closely at the hummingbird and gently picked it up.

“He found the bird’s feet totally bound up in a black widow spider web (distinguished by its strength and audible breaking sound). The hummingbird then remained still while he unbound the web (with students watching).

“When done, the bird again sat still in his hand for about a minute prior to flying away,” Jones wrote.

“While the scientist in us would like to write this off to just coincidence (particularly with it being a separate species and gender), the timing of the two events does push credibility. Who knows?”

Great story; pass it on.

Speaking of great stories: Nancy Lorraine’s words and Dorothy Herron’s illustrations are perfect complements in this self-published book, “The Butterfly Adventure” ($15).

This sweet 45-page book skillfully packages fact with fiction for young readers. Blue and Yellow (cousins from the Swallowtail Family) explore a flower garden with permission from Nana Ladybug, who warns them to not lose sight of the trail (they get lost, of course) and to stay away from the big old toad (a scary experience).

A bumblebee almost knocks over Yellow.

“Nana says they are harmless unless you scare them.”

Pollen is everywhere. Life is everywhere.

An encounter with “a giant green worm” leads to the revelation of caterpillars that can turn into butterflies after emerging from a chrysalis.

“That’s my cousin Spot,” the caterpillar sighed. “He made his chrysalis two weeks ago.”

The sac bursts and Spot emerges.

It’s one natural experience after another.

No passage: Work continues on the lower section of Suiattle River Road 26, about eight miles north of Darrington, from Highway 30 to Boundary Bridge.

The road will remain closed until Aug. 6, blocking access from the Suiattle River and Miners Ridge trails to Image Lake and Downey Creek trails.

Pick your days: During the week, Mason Lake Road 9031 will be closed at milepost 2, blocking access to Ira Spring Trail until mid-August for helicopter timber thinning.

The road is at I-90, exit 45. It will be open Fridays at noon through Sundays and holidays.

Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or

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