Flight of Fancy

Hummingbirds — their name comes from the fact that they flap their iridescent wings so fast (about 80 times per second) that they make a humming noise. They can fly right, left, up, down, backwards, and even upside down.

Using strategically placed salvia, hyssop, and a sugar-water feeder, we’ve intentionally created a hummingbird hideaway. “Build it and they will come,” they said. That’s an understatement. They’ve come all right—in droves—and I’m enamored.

Laurie Buchanan TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

Once I started researching these colorful little creatures, I quickly discovered that they hold a wide variety of symbolism in different cultures around the globe, but there are a few core similarities:

  • Joy — the foundation of joie de vivre
  • Exuberance — high energy
  • Tenacity — persistence, determination, sticktoitiveness
  • Flexibility — they bend but don’t break

Laurie Buchanan TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

Which hummingbird attribute best describes you?

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

76 thoughts on “Flight of Fancy

  1. Hi Laurie,

    I’ll go for, in order, tenacity, flexibility, exuberance and joy 😉

    Met my first hummingbird in Seattle about 8 years ago – amazing things – we don’t have them in NZ.
    We do have beetles that are about the same size and sound very much like them.

  2. How I love the hummmmmmmingbird. When we lived in CA and hung our hummer feeder on our deck, we’d sit and sip our cups of tea in the morning, a glass of wine at night, while listening to that hummmm just inches from us. We lived near what we called a “hummingbird tree” where they stayed during the night, so we had dozens at our feeder from dawn to dusk. I can still hear that husky, whirring, magical sound. Now in NE, our feeder is hanging right outside our bedroom window, so we watch their little pipes suck in the sugar water so daintily. They bring me JOY. Always J O Y.

  3. They were late getting to us this year, but are making up for it now!! They do make me smile. Especially when I realize it isn’t one of those giant beetles that Ted was talking about, flying near my head!

    • Val — In doing my research (at least for the Pacific Northwest) we’re supposed to put our feeders up on April 1 and take them down on October 1. Apparently when they depart for the winter, they fly approximately 2,000 miles with those itty-bitty wings! Maybe they were late arriving to your house because they traveled so far 🙂

  4. A hummingbird feeder came with our new house. I filled it with fresh nectar and waited and waited. No birds, but the liquid level kept going down, so now I suspect a leak. A few days ago, I spotted a hummingbird sipping honeysuckle nectar from the planter on the front porch. So I would add another word to your list of four: hopeful, which I shall remain.

    When you think about it, hummingbirds are hopeful too: They fight to stay aloft so they can sip nectar. Effort –> reward A beautiful fable, Laurie!

    • Marian — I love the addition of HOPEFUL. If your feeder is leaking, check the ground where it hangs. You may have ants. If you don’t see wet and/or ants, you just might have hummingbirds who come/go when no one’s present 🙂

  5. I too love hummingbirds. In First Nations culture, hummingbirds are considered messengers of peace, healing your body and soul and guiding you through life’s challenges. Hummingbirds are very independent and seem to have an unlimited energy supply, symbolizing wonder and beauty. I often pick a hummingbird as my totem animal and think tenacity best describes me. You have created a perfect place for these amazing birds to rest and refresh themselves.

  6. What beautiful symolism. I am not sure which quality best describes me, but I love the JOY characteristic. Joy is my middle name and I try to live up to it.

  7. I think flexibility would be the attribute that would fit me. I love sitting on my front deck, watching the hummers dart here and there, chattering all the way. I think they’re beginning to leave for the winter now – I’ve been seeing fewer of them the past couple of days.

  8. I love hummingbirds. Some years ago as I stood on my front porch, after coming home from last day of a temp assignment…SUDDENLY, there appeared a hummingbird hovering no more than 2 feet from my head. I did not move until he/she left. That was an awesome experience.

    • Ann — Ohhhhhhhh, that’s wonderful! Our haven’t gotten that close to us, yet, but they don’t flit off when we talk with them. They’re getting less afraid of us each day. I learned that they have incredible memories so I think the same ones will return next year 🙂

  9. This summer (almost) every time my husband stepped out of the house a hummingbird attacked his head. I laughed and laughed, until it started happening to me. : ( But I still love these tiny wonders.

    I share two attributes with hummingbirds: tenacity and joy.
    And if I were a hummingbird I’d tell all my friends about the slice of heaven you’ve created for us. And we’d sing…or hum your praises. Can you hear us?

  10. To Pam’s JOY and Marian’s HOPE, I would add AWE or WONDER to the feelings I get when watching them. We don’t have a hummingbird feeder–perhaps something to think about. Occasionally over the years, we’ve had a humming bird appear at our butterfly bush.

    • Merrill — I love your addition of AWE/WONDER. In doing our research, we learned that a butterfly bush is one of the plants that attracts butterflies, honey bees, and hummingbirds. These three creatures tend to share the same affinity for plants, including salvia, hyssop (hummingbird mint), and Ruellia (also known as purple showers) 🙂

      • It also seems to attract birds. I found a nest in it this spring. Our butterfly bush is situated in front of our dining room windows, where our cats can watch whatever creatures are there. One summer we had hummingbird moths!

      • I saw Verbirum spelled Viburnum on an English Garden page so I am not sure of the spelling, It is mostly 50 year old bush in our courtyard. The Daphne is a variegated small bush plant – the rock Daphne not as fragrant and once you plant one can not move it or it will not survive.

  11. Definitely tenacity is a part of who I am, but I also like to think I’m a bit exuberant and joyous as well. We’ve had a mama hummingbird nest in the same nest the last two or three years giving us the joy of watching her babies birth, grow and fledge. We’ve not once thought of taking down the iron porch chimes where she first built her nest hoping either she or another mama would use it. Always so sad to find no one coming to it until the next season. Thanks for a delightful place to stop today.

    • Sherrey — Ohhhhhh, I’m tickled pink for you having a hummingbird’s nest right there! My research indicates they have life-long memories, and while they may not use the iron porch chimes as a nest, they may well use them as a landmark and would miss them if they disappeared 🙂

  12. I have never seen a humming bird , we don’t get them here in the U.K.
    Delightful creatures , you seem to have rather a lot on your hands Laurie . You made them so welcome , see.
    JOY …with out doubt .
    I’ m a little bit like ‘The Girl WIth The Curl’ do you know that poem ?
    When I am joyful I am boundless with joy .
    When I’m miserable , I’m really blooming miserable 😀
    Right now I have a friend staying and she is wearing me thin , I am miserable . I want to run for the hills …she’s going home today …I hope . 🙏
    Cherryx

    • Cherry — Yes, I know that verse well, my mom used to say it to me on a regular basis (deservedly so):

      There was a little girl
      Who had a little curl
      Right in the middle of her forehead
      When she was good
      She was very, very good
      But when she was bad
      She was horrid!

      I hope by the time you read this your company’s in the rearview mirror 🙂

  13. Tenacity 🙂 I am marked as persistent. I may be flying upside down or sideways sometimes,but I keep going. These little one’s are so fun to watch. Their different markings and colors,arguing over who gets the next drink even though there are plenty of places to share a sip! Have a pretty day! Jen

  14. Laurie, you know I just love this post! In the morning as the Sun is climbing over the horizon and in the evening after it has slipped behind the mountains, I sit on the back porch, listening to 3 or 4 little engines revving at high speed. It often sounds like the soundtrack of the Jetson’s cartoon traffic jam.. I can drink my coffee, watching them jockeying for space at the feeders, then zooming off into space at the speed of sound. We have a larger Hummer, who has shown up out of the blue categorized as an Anna’s Hummingbird but I just call him Buzz Lightyear, to Infinity and beyond!

    • Sandi — Having enjoyed the hospitality of your back porch, I know precisely and exactly what you’re talking about, and can easily visualize your gorgeous Joshua tree as the beautiful backdrop 🙂

  15. I love hummingbirds and have attracted many to my garden with the plants and color. They even like to eat some kind of little insect–it would need to be very small, wouldn’t it! that is on the leaves of the oak tree. t have trouble with feeders, though, because I seem to attract thousands of bees! LOL! I do want to recommend a book I think you’d find fascinating. “Fastest Things on Wings,” by Terry Masear, is subtitled, “Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood,” and I guarantee you’d find this fascinating. It’s absolutely an enthralling book.

  16. I’ve always loved those little guys. I’ve had the opportunity, twice, to hold them in my hand. At that moment, both times, I fell deeper in love with them. Just wanted to share that with you. 🙂

      • It was amazing. I lived in an area that had many bummers and we put out three feeders for them. We also made our own food for them because it got way too pricey to purchase. One day there was a fight at one of the feeders and one hummer ended his fight by flying into the living room window. I saw it happen and I charged out of the house to pick him up because we had a few cats that were always prowling around for birds. I actually held that little guy for almost ten minutes. He’d just knocked himself out, and when he came too he buzzed up and perched on my finger, gave me the once over and buzzed away. It was like a thank you when he was on my finger. I’ll never forget that special day.

  17. It’s not Tuesday, but I still had to check out Laurie’s post. 🙂

    My husband enjoyed feeding hummingbirds in our Kalamazoo house, but we have not found the ideal space for them on our deck yet. Downstairs, however, our neighbor attracts them, and so do the next-door neighbors, so we sometimes hear the humming of wings as they dart from one feeder to another. The air race track.

    You will remember this post about my amazing experience in Cuba. http://www.shirleyshowalter.com/the-bee-hummingbird-as-angel-of-annunciation/

  18. Beautiful post. I love humming birds, I always felt they were connected to faeries. I don’t really see many where I live here in Toronto. But I spent a few months in Arizona last winter and there a few regulars that visited a nearby flowering bush.

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