The charm of hummingbirds
A “charm,” the collective noun used to describe a group of our tiny feathered aviators, has returned to Bluff for the season.
Susie put out her first feeder in late March, and Frances filled the six stations on the Twin Rocks Café porch a week later. Ever since then, we’ve had a fine flock of our returning feathered friends.
Hummingbirds stay around Bluff nearly six months to rest during their annual migration from Canada to Mexico.
Folks from the Four Corners region enjoy watching them drink the nectar of budding flowers and sip the sugary liquid from feeding stations offered by local citizens.
To many Native American tribes, the tiny birds have special significance, and they are viewed with great admiration and respect.
Navajo people refer to hummingbirds as da-he-tih-hi, which loosely translates to “small birds able to hover.”
Hummers are considered medicine people and healers of all flying creatures.
No animal on earth has the high heart rate or immense appetite of these aviators; they eat twice their body weight every day during migration season.
To the Zuni people, these small aeronauts are called ts’uuya and represent messengers who bring joy and beauty.
Zunis believe hummingbirds intervene for humans to bring the blessings of rain to our hot, dry land.
Zuni craftsmen are masters of a difficult jewelry-making technique called inlay and for decades have produced hummingbird bracelets, pendants, pins, and other adornments to honor the tiny creatures.
By mid-September the hummers begin to disperse and we put away the feeders for winter.
During their residency in Bluff, we routinely go through several pounds of sugar each week to keep them humming.
They are the world’s smallest birds; their total body weight typically equals not more than that of a copper penny.
While the feathered flyers are away, everyone is eager to see them reappear with the coming of spring, when we will once again play host to a new Charm of Hummingbirds.