Pirogue- Lost at Sea

I’ve been working for the last couple of weeks on an ROV job. We’re working in the Walker Ridge area. It’s about 178 nautical miles SW of Fourchon, LA. Not much around all the way out here.

The other night on DP watch, we saw something flashing in the light around the windows. A bird? A bug? (Sometimes we get some pretty big moths out here). Turns out, it was a tiny little hummingbird.

Our crane operator Shane crept up on it and managed to catch it. It was so exhausted, it just sat calmly in his hands while we tried to give it something to drink. We mixed up some sugar and water and fed it by hand with a coffee straw.

Shane named the bird ‘Pirogue’. We don’t know why. We don’t know why Shane does anything he does. 😉

At first we put Pirogue in a water bottle so he would have a little room to move around in. It was just the only thing we could think of that we had handy. We cut the top off it, turned the top around upside down and stuck it back into the bottle. We fed Pirogue more sugar water and he started to perk up. We made the mistake of leaving the top off the bottle a little too long, and Pirogue was off like a shot! 🙂

He flew around the wheelhouse til Shane (the bird-whisperer) managed to catch up with him again. We put him back in the bottle and kept the top on to feed him from then on. 😉

Itchy (one of our ABs- don’t ask how he got that name) came up with a big 5 gallon water bottle (with the top cut off and some holes drilled in it) for us to move the bird into. We fixed him up a little nest of shredded newspaper in a cool whip tub. Shane made a perch for him out of a pencil. We put a cup of water in there with him but he preferred to drink the sugar water from the straw.

We hand fed him every half hour. Eventually, we figured he needed some rest so we put a dark towel over the ‘cage’ and left him alone til morning.

When I took the cover off him in the morning, I thought he would already be up and alert, but he surprised me, he was still very groggy. I almost thought he was dead, but he would blink his eyes at me verrrry slooooowly…

After about a half hour or so, he gathered his wits about him and started buzzing around his ‘cage’. Letting us all know he was HUNGRY. Everyone who came up to the bridge would stop by and take a few minutes to give him a few sips from the straw.

Pirogue has been making great progress. I think he might be able to make it the rest of the way home by himself now. Only one thing, the weather is pretty nasty out here now and is supposed to continue that way for the next few days. I’d hate to turn ol’ Pirogue loose, just to see him blown away in a heavy thunderstorm. 🙁

That’s probably how he wound up on our boat in the first place. He might not get so lucky again.

So, I’ve decided to keep him here til we make crew change in a couple of days. I’ll turn him loose when we get to the dock in Fourchon. Hopefully he’ll be able to find his way from there.

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These birds live all over the Eastern part of North America. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the only ones that regularly nest east of the Mississippi. With a name like Pirogue, ours might be happy enough to settle in South Louisiana (but hopefully not in Fourchon itself). 😉

Since we’ve adopted Pirogue on here, some of us have spent some time on google. We’ve wondered how he would wind up all the way out here in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. We don’t usually see hummingbirds out here.

Turns out, hummingbirds migrate all the way from Central America to the US every year. I’m reading online that “many cross the Gulf of Mexico in a single flight’.

Well, they would have to, since there’s nothing out here for them to eat or drink. Until we started drilling for oil out here in the last few years, they had no way to stop for a rest either.

Imagine, flying for 500 miles or more without a break! Scientists have found that they fatten up a lot before they make their yearly migration. They may double their body mass.

Pirogue is a ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) . They’re bright emerald green on the back and grey-white underneath. Males have a bright, ruby-red throat patch, tho it only really shows very bright at certain angles. Pirogue is a male, he has a very obvious red throat. He looks almost iridescent. 🙂

They usually eat nectar. I know people use bright red feeders to attract hummingbirds so the red coffee straw was a good way to get Pirogue to eat and drink here. I learned that they also eat small bugs for protein. We don’t have any of those handy out here. (Good thing!).

Wikipedia says that these birds can live to be 9 years old, tho the males rarely make it past 5. I have no way of telling Pirogues age, but I hope he makes it through another migration. Maybe he’ll have learned to stop by another ship to get some help next time too. 🙂

0 thoughts on “Pirogue- Lost at Sea

  1. I did take Pirogue up the road with me when I got off the ship. I turned him lose up the road in LaRose. He flew off into the woods and looking pretty happy. I hope he makes it. 🙂

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