Along a wooden fence a mass of honeysuckle vines entwined themselves winding and turning in every conceivable way to display their beautiful aromatic fragrances. No stone is too hard, no height to far to reach, no soil too poor for the roots to embed for the determined honeysuckle vine. Like pale yellow trumpets their blossoms hang and every gentle breeze carries their captivating aroma.
Much more determined to survive than the most expensive rose and far less work necessary for their aroma to be enjoyed is the simple vine draping over a man-made divider. If one could pluck each blossom and extract its luscious fragrance royalty would pay a ransom to wear it. Yet it twines its strong shoots in meadows, across bridges and along creek banks. If one pulls the center out of the blossom and taste the sweet nectar it might give a small sample of what the tiny hummingbird enjoys daily.
As I work in my garden I can’t help but notice its tiny wings constantly fluttering. It sticks its long beak inside each blossom to capture what man cannot, the nectar that gives and sustains its life. Though it is the smallest of all birds it accomplishes what others cannot. Man or any other bird cannot feast for days on the nectar of the honeysuckle. Not only can it feast on each blossom but it can remember each and every blossom it has visited. It can also remember how long it will take that blossom to fill again with the tasty liquid. Should one visit many blossoms only to smell its fragrance remembering every single blossom and know how long it would be before that blossom would be filled again would be impossible for man.
The hummingbird has always been an amazing little bird. It flutters in mid-air it supping the sweet liquid inside trumpet-shaped blossoms. It’s wings are so powerful they can do all sorts of things. They can fly up, down, backwards, forwards and can rotate in a complete circle if need be. They can even stop in mid-air, fly side to side, or upside down if they choose to do so. Yet its tiny feet cannot walk upon the earth like most birds. It chooses instead to perch upon a twig or a feeder. God has given this little bird such amazing talents and it uses every one of them daily. Man has many more talents but does he use them like the little hummingbird? If a painter could paint with oil on a canvas it would be impossible to capture all of the colors on the wings of this little bird. Yet the hummingbird flutters its tiny wings to display all the colors to anyone willing to watch.
Hummingbirds are the tiniest birds in the entire world and they can hear much better than humans. Though they drink from the most beautiful blossoms on earth they cannot smell the hypnotic fragrances at all. They can hear much better than any human and see much farther. Its weight is about the same as the penny.
There are two tiny birds living in a tree across from the wooden fence now covered with honeysuckle vines. The female is larger than the male and her name is Beijia or Bea Bea for short. The males name is Chee Chee. They are both busy pollinating the tubular flowers by rubbing their tiny foreheads and face in each little blossom as they gather the nectar. Willingly they display their skills of flying to us daily.
Beijia is building her nest in which she will lay her tiny eggs. Chee Chee is busy chasing away all other male hummingbirds from his claimed territory.
“This is very hard work!” Bea Bea sighed. “My wings are getting weary. I believe I will search for some small soft bugs to eat. The protein will give me more energy so I can keep working on my nest.” She chirped. Flitting her tiny wings this way and that way her eyes scoured over the ground beneath her. She normally ate at least seven times an hour to keep up her energy level.
Of course Chee Chee was no help at all preparing the soft nest for the eggs. Her wings rotated in a full circle and quick as could be she dove down, snapped up a bug. Flying up side down, she returned to her perch for a quick snack. The couple spent most of their time perching on twigs or tree branches.
Bea Bea was getting everything ready for her new babies. She knew most young birds do not survive the first year but she was going to do her best to make it happen. She was aware that baby hummingbirds would not be able to fly and would need to stay in the nest for at least a month. During this time she would teach them how to find food until their wings were strong enough to fly. She ruffled her feathers and shook herself vigorously watching for any feather that might fall. She was collecting as many as she could find to line her nest. It has to be soft and comfortable for the tiny eggs she would deposit and keep warm for weeks.
“I’ve had four or five other nest and with each one, I think I’ve made a better one than before. My old ones are so weathered and worn I think it is just better to start a new one. This might be my last nest and I want it to be very special.
“You do know that five or six years is the life span of most hummingbirds. I’m almost to that point and I’d like my children to add beauty and splendor to this world when I’m gone.” She chirped hoping Chee Chee might hear.
Chee Chee was busy lapping up nectar from a red trumpet vine with his tongue and paid very little attention to Bea Bea’s words.
“These tiny hairs on the end of my tongue sure are good at helping me lap up this nectar.” He said as he rushed to another blossom.
“Thirty percent of my weight is in my flight muscles and I’ve got to keep them strong!” He exclaimed as he fluttered his way from blossom to blossom. He really had no interest in Bea Bea’s nesting talk.
“My father lived for ten years and I hope I will live much longer than he did.” Chee Chee chirped loudly.
“Well that is because you males never help out at all with the children. We have to care for the babies and that takes years off ones life!” Bea Bea replied rather flustered by Chee Chee’s nonchalant behavior. “You just go ahead and vent your aggression out on other males because I’m sick and tired of your egotistical behavior.” She continued as she carried a piece of cotton to her nest. “I’m glad we do not mate for life. We females need a change of venue.” She winked her tiny eye in humor but was very serious in her words. “The next male I find will have many iridescent feathers. I just find them to be so attractive!” She chirped.
“Did you know that I can lap up this sweet nectar at about 13 licks per second? I’m pretty good at this.” Chee Chee boasted proudly. “I can also fly at a speed of thirty miles an hour. When I’m diving I can dive up to sixty miles an hour. I might not be as big as some of the other birds but I’m faster and better. I don’t care that they can sing and I can only chirp.” He huffed as his ears picked up the cheerful notes of other songbirds in the area.
“Well if you keep eating eight times your body’s weight, you might not live ten years. You might get too fat to fly!” Bea Bea replied with a smile.
“I think I’ll fly down to Mexico and visit some family this fall. It will be a good fly but I’ve flown over 2,000 miles twice a year for many years now. I think I am still up to it.” Chee Chee said fluttering his wings rapidly. “I’ve got to double my weight before migration.” Chee Chee’s wings rotated in a full circle and he perched himself upon a small twig. “Yep I’m on my way to see Alfredo my cousin in good old Mexico.” He continued.
“Just because you have a longer beak doesn’t make you a better bird.” Bea Bea snapped.
Weeks passed and Bea Bea finished her nest just in time to lay her eggs. Later two tiny hummingbirds broke open the shells and emerged into the world to join the circle of life.
God knows that the hummingbird has 940 feathers and He knows how many hairs are on the head of a person at all times. As I bury my hoe into the soil I wonder how many hummingbirds lie beneath the soil. Thousands of years have passed since God created the world. How many bodies of mankind lie mixed into this soil I now use to plant my garden in? Will my body one day become just a lump of soil in someone’s garden? If God loves the tiniest of all birds how much greater is his love for mankind?
The honeysuckle vine if not controlled will cut through a tree and eventually over-power killing it. It is so strong and determined to show its simple beauty it will choke the life out of a giant oak tree smothering it to death. The honeysuckle in the thicket has no thorns yet it is more powerful than the thorny rose-bush.
The bright red glass hummingbird feeder hangs in the backyard. It is designed for only the hummingbird’s beak. Another larger bird feeder is filled with seeds to calm the hunger of the wild birds that come to visit. All the birds sing beautiful sounds but the hummingbird can only chirp. Why did God not give a beautiful song to such a beautiful little bird? Probably for the same reason He did not give the honeysuckle vine or the trumpet vine thorns. Each thing and person is given a portion or talent. Each is expected to use what he has to complete the circle of life. Are you using yours like the tiny little hummingbird?
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved
Question. Can the hummingbird’s wings rotate in a circle in mid-air?