Hummingbirds, with their flighty nature and iridescent plumage, are celebrated visitors at windowsills and bird feeders across North America, even more so if they ever slow down long enough to pose for a photo.

But the Bellaire family from Corbeil discovered earlier this week that when a male ruby-throated hummingbird stays still for too long, something is wrong.

The Bellaires were taking photos of a hummingbird hanging out in their neighbour’s garden Wednesday evening when they realized something was wrong with the small bird. It wasn’t flying away from the family of four.

“We went outside and took a couple pictures and then we all realized that it couldn’t fly,” said Kayleen Bellaire, 12, who cared for the bird Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

“So I brought it inside to protect it.”

Kayleen called her grandmother for some advice. She told Kayleen to put the bird in a box filled with something soft, like grass, which they did.

And despite a failed feeding attempt Wednesday before going to bed, the bird finally drank some sugar water from a pipet – similar to a glass eye dropper – Thursday morning before the family brought it to the North Bay and District Humane Society where it was later transferred into the care of Kay MacKinnon, owner and operator of the new Northern Lights Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Marten River.

“I’ve always liked wildlife and I just wanted to help the bird,” Kayleen said modestly of her efforts, noting she has considered becoming a veterinarian.

MacKinnon, who had successfully transferred the bird to the centre by 4 p.m. Thursday, said both its wings were intact, but it was missing several tail feathers.

“It looks like something grabbed him,” she said. “They (ruby-throated hummingbirds) come all the way from Mexico and then to have something like this happen to them here is sad.”

MacKinnon said because the bird’s wings are not broken, it stands a good shot at surviving.

“I’ve had him in hand and he’s been flapping both his wings nicely,” she said. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s got to grow some feathers.” MacKinnon will look after the bird and encourage its recovery until October, when it will begin the long migration back to Mexico for the winter.

According to the Bird Rescue Centre in Santa Rosa, Calif., injured birds should be gently picked up around the shoulders so the wings are held against the body and cannot flap. Also, injured birds should only be fed water or sugar water, as the Bellaires did, to avoid foreign food sources that could damage the bird’s digestive system.

They should be kept in a cardboard box, prepared before handling the bird, with a soft towel on the bottom and a cover on the top.