Because of child-related factors, I get in to the office early - usually before anyone else on my floor and most people in the building. Perhaps related to this, I have a good relationship with the janitorial staff in my building, but it also means that I am often the point person for things that come up in the early morning in the building.
One morning a member of the janitorial staff came by with a heap of paper towels and asked me "can you do anything with this?" Unsure what "this" was, I opened the towels to find a dead humming bird.
As another important part of the story, our building has a lot of glass and in the middle it is possible to see through the building. This, of course, is like creating a giant bird neck breaker because birds think they can fly straight through. Despite multiple requests from myself and others to place some sort of marker on the glass, this has yet to happen. So, it is common for me to hear the thud of bird-on-glass from my office.
Alright, back to the story. This bird was like grilled bread - toast. I gracious accepted the carcass from the distraught janitor and promised to make some calls to see whether it could be put to some use. Turns out that it could and it joined the ornithology "bird on a stick" collection*. The creature's death was not totally in vain.
A few days pass and I hear a thud. Another bird and an untimely fate. But being the curious person I am, I went to check it out. What I found was another hummingbird, laying on its back all akimbo, with it's long tongue laying sideways like a bad characiture of a dead bird. I grabbed some paper towels** and picked it up. When I did so its neck lolled about and it let out a pathetic squeak. "On death's door" I thought and went to call the bird on a stick guy.
I placed the bird/towel combo on my desk and looked around for the phone number. Not where I left it, hmmmm. While doing so, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye - something was staring at me with cold dark eyes. From my desk the bird peered at me. "Oh shit, I'm going to have to put it out of its misery" I thought. Sure a broken neck but not dead yet! But since ornithology is not my thing, it would seem that my appreciation for the resilience of bird necks was soon to be my undoing.
With pity in my heart, I picked the bird/towel pile and considered how I might dispatch of a bird to end its suffering. Perhaps sensing the danger, the bird suddenly looked a LOT more lively. And angry.
They may be small, but you still don't want to piss off a hummingbird. Fast sharp beaks, yo. (source)
Now I'm holding the bird/towel hybrid and the bird starts to squeak. A lot. Realizing that I may have been premature in my calling the time of death, I put a second hand on the towels as the bird decided that it no longer wanted to be wrapped in a paper toga. My office has both high ceilings and a big ass window = essential impossible turf to catch a flying bird.
Must. Get. Bird. Outside.
Down two flights of stairs and outside, all with a squeaking bird in my hands and students wondering what the hell kind of perverse experiment I was doing. I got through the exterior doors in just enough time before the bird freed itself and flew off like a bolt.
Moral of the story - stunned birds can look like dead birds, but it's best to double check before you bring them into your office.
*And in case it's not clear, the bird is not standing on a stick, but more resembles a popsicle. Reason # 5684 that I don't work on animals.
**I have no idea when this is the choice medium of transfer for dead birds.