MARIN INDEPENDENT JOURNAL
Marin Snapshot: “Fairfax Artist Finds Calling As Foster Mom for Hummingbirds”
by Jennifer Upshaw
POSTED: 05 / 01 / 2010
Above Photo/Jeff Vendsel A pair of hummingbirds fed by artist and conservationist Brenda Sherburn, Director of www.saveworlddraw.org through WildCare fosters cares hummingbirds.
Artist and conservationist Brenda Sherburn of Fairfax, who has cared for infant hummingbirds for more than a decade, says one of the biggest challenges is feeding the tiny birds. ‘They digest their food very quickly…. They re so little you can t feed them a lot,’ she says. Artist and conservationist Brenda Sherburn’s life is always humming.
Sherburn, who has lived in the Fairfax hills for 14 years, has spent nearly a decade serving as a foster mother to baby hummingbirds scooped up by the San Rafael-based animal rehabilitation organization WildCare. A sculptor and sketch artist with a particular fascination for winged creatures, Sherburn will teach a class this May at Riley Street Art Store in San Rafael on “Birds As an Inspiration for Art,” a course for kids age 8 and older. She is director of www.saveworlddraw.org, an organization that creates art to help fill wishes for conservation.
Q: How did you get into fostering hummingbirds?
A: I was working in Belize in 2001 and I helped build an educational center for wildlife with the Belize Audubon Society … when I came back 9/11 hit. It just hit me; I felt I needed to volunteer and be doing something to try to make the world a better place.
Q: How many hummingbirds do you foster at any given time?
A: I think six would be the maximum that I’ve had at a time. When I have really tiny ones like in an incubator, you know, just a couple, that is very time consuming because you are attached to the incubator and 20-minute feedings until they get big enough to be outside. Then it’s not too bad because you can take them outside in a little basket and it’s really easy to feed them and they move along until we release them.
Q: What is the biggest challenge in fostering hummingbirds?
A: Not to overfeed them and to really make sure your timer is on. Twenty minutes go – you just get into a pace.
Q: Why is timing important?
A: They digest their food very quickly and in the wild the mother bird is constantly feeding them and they’re so little you can’t feed them a lot. They are growing constantly and their little bill will just kind of grow out and get longer and longer and they start doing the little tongue thing. It’s really a miracle.
Q: What attracts you to these particular birds?
A: It really clicked when I was in Belize. I saw hundreds of birds everywhere and other wildlife. When I came back I just realized that our wildlife is really in jeopardy. We need to take time to do what we can to preserve it. As far as getting onto the hummingbird team, it was just timing. They needed somebody and at that point I was ready. I must add, it also works great with my art because it’s inspirational, it’s magical – it just makes me observe the world in a better way.