The Hummingbird’s Tool

“A bird’s tool is its own body.” Jules Michelet, L’oiseau. Quoted in The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard.

The hummingbird makes her nest from spiderwebs and fluffy seeds. If you secretly watched her, the fly on the branch, you would see her continuously circle and press her chest against the gathered materials to create a tiny space, rounded and ready for her 2 pea-sized eggs. She is a hard worker and cares for her eggs solo.

The ruby throated hummingbird, 3 and 1/2 inches long, can be seen flitting about gardens and yards east of the Mississippi River. It winters from Mexico to Panama and north to the Gulf states. Only the male has the ruby throat. During courtship, the female perches and watches the male as he makes swinging flights back and forth like a buzzing pendulum.

The hummers feed by hovering and dipping into tubular flowers such as lilies or the sugar filled glass tubes many people put out. It is the only bird that can fly backwards. It can also be seen perching on a wire or branch to rest and survey the land. “All are fearless and pugnacious “ (1966, Birds of North America). They have been known to even attack eagles by chasing and diving at them. Watch for the jeweled iridescent chest flashing its rainbow colors, a reminder of summer rain and the fullness of the seasons.