It’s probably the least likely friendship you will ever see: a minuscule hummingbird and a hulking, tattooed, ex-SWAT team police officer.
For Mike Cardenaz, of Grovetown, Georgia, there’s a special bond between man and bird—one that began with a rescue operation.
Cardenaz has spent years working for the Special Weapons and Tactics team in his community, but after retiring from the semi-military, specialized police unit, he settled for simple home life.
It was about four years ago, the inked tactician explained, that a tiny hummingbird with a broken wing appeared on his porch, attracted there by the flowers that were hanging.
“Several of his feathers in his wings were broken off, and he couldn’t take flight,” Cardenaz explained, speaking with 26NBC.
Naming the hummingbird Buzz, he brought it into his home to heal. It was fed sugar and Pedialyte and kept inside so it could rest and get better without worrying about the elements or natural predators.
Guess who showed back up for the 4th year in a row. 😍😍. Welcome back from South America, Buzz. ☺️☺️
After about eight weeks, Cardenaz explained, he felt like the bird was practically a part of the family—but the right thing to do was to release it back into the wild, so that’s exactly what he did. He let the little bird fly around the backyard each day, growing stronger until one day it finally took off for the winter.
He never expected to see it again. Then, one day, he looked outside and there it was—Buzz had come back!
Each year, the little bird flew back to the place it had called home for the scariest weeks of its life. It became a tradition—so much so that when Buzz was a little late this year, it had Cardenaz feeling a little bit worried.
“I was kind of worried about him, and I was on the front porch, sweeping off the front porch, and I felt something zoom around my head,” he said. “I stood on the front porch, put my hand out, and he landed on my hand.”
Cardenaz explained that hummingbirds don’t typically come up and just land in humans’ hands, so he’s confident that the bird that approaches him every year is Buzz. And as the man who treated an injured chipmunk as well, he’s now no stranger to gaining the trust of injured animals. He said that people now call him “Dr. Doolittle,” earning a reputation as the guy who likes to rescue nature’s most vulnerable creatures when he’s not fawning over muscle cars.
It’s not particularly surprising that Buzz will take off for months at a time when the temperatures drop. Hummingbirds aren’t huge fans of the colder weather, choosing to take off for Mexico or Central America when the air starts to chill and returning when things warm back up again.
Cardenaz certainly isn’t the only nature-loving good Samaritan out there who’s nursed a wild animal back to health. But with his massive arms and tattoos, he may be the most surprising we’ve seen yet!