Thursday, August 9, 2018

Fastest Things on Wings - Book Review

 Fastest Things on Wings Book Review
She huddles over the ice-cold, lifeless body wondering if any resuscitation effort can make a difference at this point.  It appears that Gabriel is gone, but Terry tries one last-ditch attempt to revive him.  While tenderly cupping the tiny hummingbird in her hands, Terry gently bathes Gabriel in the warmth of her breath, in the heat of her life-giving essence.  Against all odds, Gabriel responds with a twitch of the teeniest of feet.  And so the real work, magic, and mystery of rehabilitation begins.  Though the healing journey will be long and arduous, Gabriel is fortunate to have landed in the hands of Terry Masear, the miracle-worker you would want if you were an injured or desperate hummer fighting for your life.

To read Masear's Fastest Things on Wings: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood, is to enter the mesmerizing world of the astonishing hummingbird, along with gaining a deep sense of gratitude and reverence for the extremely rare individuals who choose to give all that they've got to save the lives of these magnificent creatures.  This book is far more than a fascinating chronicle of what it takes to rescue and rehab a day-old nestling the size of a bumblebee.  It is truly a love letter to be cherished by each of us who has ever known the romance of being in the presence of a hummingbird's majesty.  The rescue stories shared provide glimpses into both the human heart and the heretofore misunderstood, or unknown, nature of the world's mightiest warrior on wings.

Though seemingly fearless, Masear's patients reveal a tenderness and vulnerability few people ever get to witness.  Take Pepper and Gabriel, for instance — two birds that had previously experienced the kind of dazzling flight not even known by the highly vaunted Blue Angels.  Pepper and Gabriel could fly backwards, upside down, in a 360-degree spin or barrel roll, and dive at the speed of 385 body lengths per second.  As Masear notes, the grounded hummingbird, the one with serious back or wing injuries, is the one that often elicits the greatest heartache in the rehabber.

"Young hummingbirds like Pepper who have lost everything at such an early age hit me hard, even after all of the tragedies I have seen in rehab.  Their memory of flight and overpowering desire to float freely again drive every fiber of their being and make me want desperately to help."

As we accompany Masear on her daily rehab rounds tending to hummingbird victims, we meet birds that have somehow survived being driven down the Los Angeles freeway at speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour, while trapped under flapping windshield wipers, for over 90 minutes, plus victims of limousine windshield collisions, and birds trapped in sky-diving wind tunnels, along with victims of encounters with cats, dogs, tree-trimmers, soccer nets, and hummingbirds injured by both their own species and the human species.

You are sure to develop an affection for Brad, Iris, Pepper, Gabriel, and any number of other rehab patients.  These extraordinary hummingbirds teach us all vital lessons about nurturing others, about the nuances of healing both body and spirit, and about the powerful connections that defy previously held notions about the relationships that are possible between humans and hummingbirds.  You don't have to be involved in animal rescue or rehabilitation to appreciate the intricacy of Masear's ministrations to the baby hummers she affectionately calls the "naked babies" (newborns), the "bobbleheads," or the "dinofuzz."

But, if you happen to have previously engaged in saving the life of a precious animal, this book is likely to touch your heart in unforgettable ways.  It is now the height of hummingbird season where I live.  I found this to be the perfect time to immerse myself in Masear's mission to help all hummers not only survive, but thrive.  Though I have read volumes about hummingbirds in my quest to know as much as possible about these birds that I adore, I was delighted to gain so many new insights.  I highly recommend this book.  It is the type of tribute to beautiful creatures, and their loving champions, that will bathe your spirit with life-giving warmth.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”



  1. That is one of the things I love most about you, Diana, is your genuine love for all of God's creatures. So many people go through life not seeing the real beauty of a small hummingbird. Your descriptions of the little birds are, as always, beautifully written. As for the book, I can easily imagine that someone who has dedicated their entire life to rehab for any animal would be a tremendous blessing to life that the world often overlooks. Thank you for introducing us to this book and to Terry Masear. I look forward to finding her pearls of wisdom among the pages myself.

    1. I appreciate your lovely comments, Mouse. It is often the smallest things that are the most exquisite things in life. I missed seeing those things at many points in my career. I am so thankful that I am now making up for lost time.

  2. This truly sounds like a fascinating book. Thanks Diane for the recommendation

    1. It really is fascinating, Mary Beth. I will never look at a hummingbird the same way again (and I was already looking at them with wonder).

  3. Hummers are one of my favorite birds in the world. I'm so happy to know that there is someone who is out there looking after all the ones that are injured. They are so precious. I would enjoy this book I'm sure. Thanks Diana for a lovely review!

    1. I thought of you as I read this book and wrote my review, as I know these wondrous birds are special in your eyes. I do believe you would enjoy this book. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Always lovely to see you.

  4. Another wonderful review of books about animal rescue, a subject you are most expert in yourself, Diana. Your personal rescue and rehabs mostly concern cats and dogs, but I understand why you admire the work of rescuers for other species. This hummingbird rescuer is the perfect example.

    1. Thank you, Elf. The amazing thing is that I actually had to rescue two hummingbirds shortly after reading this book (very recently). That had never happened before. For some reason, on two different days, a couple of hummers got jammed in the perching ring on their feeders. I was thankful to find them in time to help. A hummingbird will die very quickly when stressed and unable to do the necessary frequent feedings. Also, they were damaging their wings while struggling to free themselves. Both were able to fly away as soon as I released them. I sure hope they will be in good shape for their upcoming migration, as I worry that they damaged some of their feathers. As you noted, I do very much admire rescuers. I now have a whole new appreciation for hummingbird rehabbers. I'm pretty sure it must be the hardest rehab role in the world of animal welfare. I thought caring for young kittens and puppies was intense. It was exhausting just experiencing Terry's work vicariously. She is definitely one of my new heroes (and I don't use that word loosely).

  5. I have a friend who would love this book. I believe she would relate to the story! Her and her hubby are bird lovers who also had a bird named Pepper! I'll have to get this book for her.

  6. Such a thoughtful gift for your friends. Amazing that they also had a bird named Pepper. What are the odds of that?

  7. Diana, this sounds like a wonderful book. If I remember right, you are the first person to tell me about hummingbirds chasing/bombing each other. And I was excited that you had more than just one at a time at your feeder. Before that, I always thought they just came one at a time. How wonderful that you were able to find and assist the two that were caught.


The Review This Contributors

Cynthia SylvestermouseCynthia SylvestermouseDawn Rae BDawn Rae BMary Beth - mbgphotoMary Beth - mbgphotoBrite-IdeasBrite-IdeasBev OwensBev OwensWednesday ElfWednesday ElfBarbRadBarbRadOlivia MorrisOlivia MorrisRenaissanceWoman2010Renaissance
Lou16Lou16The Savvy AgeThe Savvy AgeTreasures by BrendaTreasures by BrendaMargaret SchindelMargaret Schindel Sam MonacoSam Monaco BuckHawkBuckHawkDecoratingforEventsDecorating
Heather426Heather426Coletta TeskeColetta TeskeMissMerFaeryMissMerFaeryMickie_GMickie_G


Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner

“As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from purchases.” Disclosure Statement