There has always been a connection between firefighters and members of the animal kingdom. Cats in trees. The family dog with its head stuck in a picket fence - that kind of thing.
But the men and women of Moraga-Orinda Fire Station 41 are playing nursemaid to a local hummingbird that has moved into the apparatus bay and crafted a nest atop a coiled air hose. Cute, the firefighters said, but it has to go - until they saw the perfectly formed egg in the hummer's perfectly woven nest.
That cracked it, the MOFD chiefs decreed - the bird stays until the little guy leaves the nest, and the fire crews of Station 41 have settled into the role of patient nannies, all waiting to witness the hatching and eventual departure.
"When the emergency alarm goes off our crews race out and the hummingbird waits for the doors to go up and flies away with the sirens," said Division Chief Darrell Lee. "But the other night the crew noticed a tapping sound on the window in the kitchen. It was the hummingbird wanting to come home. The crews had closed the doors before it could get back to the nest."
Those big softies at Station 41 scurried to get the garage door open and the hummer back on its nest, and it has since learned to time the alarms - and the opening and closing of the bay doors - so it doesn't get caught away from the nest.
"We think the hummingbird will be there for another week or more before the eggs hatch and fly off," Lee said.
In the meantime the crews are trying to give the diminutive creature some space, while brushing up on the gestation period of indigenous hummers.
"Beautiful little bird," Lee said. "Our guys love having it around."