Part I: Stalking the Wild Hummingbird, by Wendy DeRaud


"The woods hold not such another gem as the nest of the hummingbird. The finding of one is an event." John Burroughs

 

 

5th Generation Hummy - 2018

 

 

Hummy has come home to nest.

 

I consider it an honor and privilege that my patio has been chosen by this family of Hummers for so many generations, starting 5 years ago, when I first starting watching my Hummy. 

 

She has become a symbol of something greater than myself, and something bigger than her cute little humming self: she stands for life, redemption, and compassion in a broken world.

I write today from my perch at my dining room table, and out of the sliding glass door I can see her little nest, diligently placed atop one of our twinkling string lights on our back patio. 

A hummingbird nest is the softest bed imaginable, made mostly of spider webs, lint caught in the breeze perhaps from out of the dryer vent, bits of thread and filament, natural fibers and maybe a few soft leaves or flower petals, small enough to be woven into its thimble-sized capsule.

 

 

 

In case you are thinking it sounds like something magically crafted by faeries in moonlight, I would have to agree, because we all know that hummingbirds are celestial creatures sent as messengers from heaven. They are light and airy yet hold such weight and strength in their dignity and focus.

A mother hummingbird is especially big-hearted in her care for he young. 

 

That first year, that first generation Hummy built one nest so close to both our kitchen window and our glass sliding door, so that from both vantage points, I was able to witness the entire cycle, from nesting to egg laying, from incubation to the launch of her two little nestlings into the wild of my back yard and beyond.

 

 

First Generation Hummy's Chicks - 2013

 

 

The next year, I made sure to take a lot of photos and video footage too, especially on the day when the first fledgling got out of the nest and prepared to take flight for the first time.

 

 

That day in particular was a special time of mindful observation; I felt like I was being included in a secret ritual of an obscure tribe, and that I was able to discern the hummingbird language as the mother gave her little nestlings instructions as to how to navigate their first flight:

 

 

2nd Generation Hummy's  Nestlings - 2014

 

 

2nd Generation Hummy & Her Chicks on the day her first chick took flight - 2014

"You will find, my dear ones, that your legs will take to the wire most naturally; after all, they are a part of you, and have been attached to you as long as you've been alive. Even though you've never used them before, trust them to hold you, for you must take your first step out of this nest. There is so much more that awaits you, worlds you have never known that are yours for the knowing."

"Mother, I'm afraid. It's so cozy and comfortable in here, and you won't know where to find me when I leave home. How will I eat? How will I find you?"

The other one speaks up, "I want to go, Mama, I want to try flying! I've been watching you and I can tell it's fun and easy, let me try, Mama, let me try!"

 

 

 

She continues to explain that first step, but before he ventures out into the world, Mama Hummy has to speed away again to find some nectar and masticated insects, some sustenance for their journey. They wait patiently, for they are hungry and restless, and are becoming crowded in their nest. For this was supposed to happen eventually. Their wings begin to vibrate in anticipation, whether by instinct or divine entrancement, they are being prepared for their next instruction, their launching into life.

 

 

 

All day long, with a few well-timed breaks, I watched this seemingly silent transaction, though I suspected that in their own way, they were sharing the deep and mysterious rite of passage told in a language of birdly frequencies, much in the same way the hummingbird wings defy the mind, yet bring sweet pleasure to the soul.

 

Next Time, stay tuned for Part II: The Dark Side of Hummingbird Life