With their bright feathers and lightning-fast wings, hummingbirds are beloved by bird enthusiasts and casual watchers alike. A 73-year-old woman in Mexico City has devoted herself to protecting these fragile birds, setting up a hummingbird hospital in her home.
When she was recovering from colon cancer in 2011, Catia Lattouf decided to aid another on their path to healing. She welcomed a hummingbird that had lost an eye into her apartment, nursing it back to health.
One hummingbird led to another, and now Lattouf can care for around 60 hummingbirds at a time. Her apartment is perpetually filled with long beaks and flapping wings as she lovingly cares for her ailing avians.
She typically cares for sick, injured, or infant hummingbirds before returning them to the wild. During their stay, Lattouf shares her bedroom with her patients until they are strong enough to leave.
Lattouf’s home has gained a reputation in her community as a bird sanctuary, and locals will bring struggling hummingbirds to her for help.
Hummingbird populations are dwindling because of habitat loss from human development and the effects of Earth’s rising temperature. Another big reason Lattouf herself has observed is grackles, an invasive bird species.
“Grackles are not from Mexico City,” Lattouf told the Associated Press. “They were brought here, imported, and are destroying nests and birds.”
Not only are hummingbirds a pleasure to watch flit around in your backyard, they also serve an important ecological purpose as well.
Hummingbirds feed frequently — every 10 to 15 minutes — soaring from flower to flower and sipping nectar along the way. As the birds visit different flowers, they transfer pollen through their bills and disrupt pollen grains to increase pollination.
Pollination is essential for plant reproduction by ensuring plants produce fruit, which is imperative to sustain human food supplies.
With the help of her assistant nurse, Cecilia Santos, Lattouf will continue caring for and releasing hummingbirds into the wild. Since going viral on TikTok, Lattouf has seen a higher demand for her services.
Working from 5 a.m. to well into the night, Lattouf does all she can to save each hummingbird that enters her home.
“Nothing is guaranteed,” she told the AP. “I believe God gives life and God takes it, but we do everything possible.”
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