One Hummingbird’s Unusual Flight: From Minnesota to Texas, on a Plane

Rufous hummingbirds have no business being in St. Paul amid freezing temperatures

A rufous hummingbird. Photo: James Hager/Robert Harding World Imagery/Corbis

About two weeks ago, a resident in St. Paul spotted an odd visitor at her hummingbird feeder. It was a rufous hummingbird, a species that spends its summers in the Pacific Northwest and its winters in Mexico. Minnesota, experts say, is rarely on its list of pit stops.

With heavy snow predicted for the following week, the woman was concerned enough to net the bird and contact a local wildlife rehab center, as CBS Minnesota reports. She also posted the little guy's photo on Facebook. 

Almost immediately after going up on social media, CBS continues, the hummingbird began receiving a lot of attention. Some people thought the woman shouldn't have netted the bird and just let it go on its way; others wanted to help. The wildlife rehab center began "getting calls from all over the country," CBS writes. 

Last Sunday, the situation was resolved when an anonymous bird lover agreed to take the lost rufous on a private jet ride to Texas, the Star Tribune reports. (The plane was headed to Austin, anyway.) Down South, rehab staff collected the bird, ensured it was in good condition and released it.

Experts say the bird shouldn't have any trouble getting back on course to Mexico. As the Minnesota rehabbers told the Star Tribune, "“We are delighted that the rufous hummingbird is free in the wild and able to decide when and where he goes on life’s journey.” 

As for what others who find themselves in similar situations should do, it really just depends on the circumstances, the Star Tribune says. It's unlikely that the hummingbird would have survived a Minnesota snowstorm. But had November temperatures been a bit more mild, it very well could have found its way down to Mexico on its own two wings.

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