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Illinois hunting and fishing

A hummingbird is caught in a spider’s web in the garden of George and Janet Stone of Carterville. Photo by George Stone from the Associated Press.

Couple rescues hummingbird from spider web

September 28, 2011 at 04:09 PM

The Associated Press

CARTERVILLE (AP) - What started as an opportunity to photograph a spider instead turned into a bird rescue mission for a southern Illinois couple.

George Stone of Carterville was watering a flower garden in his backyard when he spotted a large garden spider near one of his many hummingbird feeders.

Hours later, however, Stone’s wife, Janet, made a disheartening discovery, as she found a hummingbird trapped in the spider’s web.

Fearing the worst, the couple quickly and carefully removed the bird from the several-foot-wide web to find it was still alive - although barely.

“She must have used all her energy flapping her wings for an hour or two,” George Stone said. “When I first held her, she couldn’t even move. ... I didn’t know if she would ever fly again.”

Illinois hunting and fishing

Avid birders and gardeners, the retired couple has lived in its Carterville home for 20-plus years and they are no strangers to having birds in their yard.

With several feeders scattered throughout the backyard, George Stone said it’s not uncommon to spot 25 or so bird varieties on any given day. Also an avid photographer, George Stone documents many of those birds - including the one they had to rescue.

“I’ve rescued about four or five hummingbirds,” George Stone said, “but I’d never seen one trapped in a web like that before.”

After discovering the bird was still alive, the couple brought the bird inside and attempted to remove and clean off as much of the web as possible. They then fed it a bottle cap-full of a sugar-water mixture, which the bird eagerly lapped up.

About a half-hour later, they brought the bird outside to see if it could fly away, with no luck. After another half-hour, the couple tried again, but the bird could only make it a few inches before stopping.

Eventually, after a third attempt at feeding the bird and giving it time to rest, the couple - and bird - finally had their breakthrough.

“I kept saying, ‘You can make it,’ and she finally looked at me and flew away,” George Stone said. “It was quite a moment.”

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