They don’t have to be of the same kind to be kindred spirits.
Stories about friendship between species is one of our favorite things here at Reader’s Digest. From the cat helping his canine brother with his separation anxiety to the 9-year-old whose best friends are the six chickens her family adopted at the start of the pandemic, the bonds that form between members of the animal kingdom make our world to be a world better place. But have you heard of the woman, her dog, and the baby hummingbird they rescued?
Alannah Zurovski takes care of everyone in her life: at work as a geriatric nurse, at home with her rescue dog Mowgli and in her Californian suburb of Oxnard, where she has a reputation for rescuing baby hummingbirds. When Reader’s Digest spoke to Alannah, she had just returned from the last addition to her household, a newly rescued baby hummingbird she had named Spunky. But we called to speak to her about a previous hummingbird rescue success story: a young woman she named Hummer.
Like father like daughter
In many ways, Alannah’s bird rescue story begins with her father. As a pilot from Colorado, he shares a lifelong love for animals with his daughter and, as a frequent flyer, has what Alannah calls a “spiritual connection with birds”. When Alannah cared for her first hummingbird a few years ago, she knew exactly who to call for help. “I thought I have no idea! What’s the formula, what do I do? You call your mother when you have a baby. “But in this case her father, who saved many birds himself, got the call. “He said this is what you feed him,” laughs Alannah. “Most of the ones I’ve had were babies and they need to be fed at least every 30 minutes,” she explains. “It’s like a newborn!” With a little help from Papa, Alannah’s hummingbird rescue career was well underway. When a neighbor found lobster on the ground in his yard, Alannah was ready to nurse him back to health. But how would her dog Mowgli get a tiny hummingbird in the house?
A dog without space
Alannah, who has a background in early childhood studies, describes herself as a natural caregiver for “everything in need”. In 2015, that instinct led her to adopt Mowgli from a local dog rescue service. “I was just having a really tough time losing my grandfather and I just needed something,” she shares. “I need something to focus on, I need something to take care of.”
When she met Mowgli, the rescue center informed her that he had been left in a box by the back door. “They had no information about him. They didn’t know how old he was, they didn’t know any of his health conditions, ”she says. Mowgli came home with her and the two have been best friends ever since. Mowgli and Alannah recently celebrated their 13th birthday with homemade, dog-friendly ice cream. The cute pooch has even become an important part of their hummingbird grooming.
Alannah had faith in his friendly manner, and when she brought Hummer home, Mowgli reacted even better than she’d hoped. “He just seemed to know somehow that mom took me in when I had no place to go, and if she brings this little one, I don’t even know what it is! But if she brings his thing into the house, it has to need it, ”Alannah shares. Mowgli’s gentle soul is truly a rescue game in heaven and it definitely reflects the innate kindness of his human mother. “It seems like one thing he’s a kindred spirit of mine in,” she agrees.
Amazingly, instead of seeing him as a threat, Hummer also went to Mowgli. Between feedings, the dog and the hummingbird liked to nap together on the heating pad. Hummer sat on Mowgli’s shoulder and chirped to his canine buddy. Mowgli even helped with Hummer’s flying practice. “At the time, I had almost 100 houseplants,” Alannah admits. “Lobster wasn’t really ready to fully fly yet, so it usually hit a wall or a plant or something! I would try to keep my eye on him, but they’re so tiny and they go so fast. But Mo would get up and sniff him out and go straight to where he was so I could find him. “
Courtesy of Alannah Zurovski
Little dog, big heart
Hummer only spent 36 hours with Alannah and Mowgli (including a sleepless night of half-hourly dog-supervised feedings), but its impact on their lives is still being felt. When Hummer started flying into the house with confidence, Alannah knew it was time to release him back into the outside world. She put it in an outdoor hanging planter and knew it would be safe there until it was ready to take off. Through the open front door, Alannah and Mowgli could hear him twittering loudly, as if they were saying goodbye and saying thank you. But Hummer’s story isn’t over yet.
As Alannah tells it, she gets up every morning and lets Mowgli go to her closed front yard to go to the bathroom. Almost every morning a hummingbird appears and sits in the hanging planter nearby for a few minutes. “It has to be lobster,” she says. Alannah thinks he could see Mowgli or recognizes the sound of her voice. Maybe he just knows her routine, but the hummingbird “probably shows up five out of seven days a week” as soon as she lets Mowgli out. It definitely seems like more than a coincidence! “I’m not sure,” Alannah admits. “But I know it never happened before I had lobsters.”
When Alannah and Mowgli take care of Spunky, their new rescue, Alannah is again impressed by Mowgli’s gentle care for the little bird. With lobster, Mowgli seemed “just right,” she says. “And he’s doing the same thing with this one right now.”
We have no doubt that soon another hummingbird will visit Mowgli every morning with lobster.
Share your own story of unlikely animal friendships on our quest for the best pet friends to get published by Reader’s Digest.