Every Year, This Hummingbird Comes Back to the Man Who Saved Him

Buzz the hummingbird comes back to visit his friend in Georgia every year.
Michael Cardenaz holding a hummingbird in his hand.
Buzz enjoys hibiscus flowers — and the company of his best friend. Michael Cardenaz

Even sitting in his driveway, Michael Cardenaz makes an imposing figure.

Muscled, tattooed and downright massive.

Then there's that steely law enforcement strand that runs through every fiber of his being: 14 years with the sheriff's office. SWAT team member and, now, Homeland Security agent.

He loves Harley-Davidsons and German shepherds and "running and gunning."

Michael Cardenaz pictured beside a German shepherd dog.
Cardenaz also happens to run a rescue for German shepherds. Michael Cardenaz

So if you'd seen him sitting in front of his house in Grovetown, Georgia, on a sunny day back in 2016, you might have wondered why a ruby-throated hummingbird buzzed by his head before landing comfortably in his palm.

Why would a bird the size of a nickel choose to perch in this giant's hand?

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For a moment, Cardenaz wondered the same thing.

"I was kind of shocked by it," he recalls to MNN. "Finally, I'm thinking, 'Random hummingbirds don't just land in my hand. This must be one of my rescues. I mean they all look alike."

Cardenaz the Hummingbird Nurse

Indeed, Cardenaz may wear many hats for his rough-and-tumble work. But this tiny bird knew him by another role he often assumes: Hummingbird nurse.

The creature resting so faithfully in his hand turned out to be an old friend and former patient.

A hummingbird resting in a human hand.
Buzz always lets his human friend know when he's back in the neighborhood. Michael Cardenaz

Gradually, it came to Cardenaz. He always had hummingbirds around the house in the summer months. Every now and then one of them would get hurt.

"One of my dogs brought another hummingbird to me in his mouth, dropped it at my feet and barked at me, like, 'Fix it.'"

But little bird that rested in his hand that day ended up in the Cardenaz infirmary under very different circumstances.

"He had an injured wing," Cardenaz recalls. "I don't know if he flew into a window or what. But he was outside my home, by the wall, just sort of spinning in a circle."

He picked up the exhausted bird and carefully examined it.

"Their wings are almost like plastic," he says. "They're transparent. Several of those had broken. So he couldn't gain flight."

A dog on a porch looking at a hummingbird.
Cardenaz doesn't put out any feeders for hummingbirds. Just flowers. And they come in droves. Michael Cardenaz

After talking to some friends who worked in wildlife rescue, Cardenaz decided to nurse the fallen flyer back to health. It took time and plenty of sugar water. But eventually, the hummingbird's wings molted again, repairing the damage.

Eventually, the bird took to the air again. But instead of buzzing off to more flowery pastures, the former patient decided he liked the Cardenaz property just fine. Especially with the great big hand always ready to offer a soft reprieve from the world.

The bird, who was named Buzz, hung around the house — and specifically Cardenaz — all summer. Then Buzz began his migration hundreds of miles south to warmer climes.

Annual Visits From an Avian Friend

Cardenaz figured he wouldn't see his little friend again. But the very next spring, Buzz surprised him in his driveway.

Southern climes had nothing on the warmth of this man's heart.

"For some reason, animals are attracted to me," he says. "I've rescued squirrels, foxes, rabbits, deer — you name it."

"Everybody calls me Doctor Doolittle."

But while other patients come and go, the little hummingbird named Buzz just kept returning to his old friend, year after year.

"As a matter of fact, he was at the house this morning on the front porch," Cardenaz notes. "He was enjoying my hibiscus."

A hummingbird in a human hand.
This is the fourth year that Buzz has shown up at the Grovetown property. Michael Cardenaz

It may not be easy to believe that a hummingbird would return to the same human's house, much less to his hand, for four straight years — unless you knew Cardenaz.

"Some people hit a dog on the road and don't blink an eye," he says. "But cops — public safety workers in general — have a desire to help not just people but living things in general. I guess that's where I come from."

"I'm probably not the guy you would think nurses hummingbirds, but you see them helpless and you want to get them back on their feet."