After a summer marred by wildfires and the violent shooting incident in Colorado, it’s especially healing to have the hummingbirds return to bring us some unmitigated joy in the face of so much loss and grief. Few things in this earthly life can be considered pure joy. To the obvious list of kittens, puppies, and newborn babies, I always add hummingbirds—and I’m so glad they have returned.
By this time each summer we usually have six or eight at our feeder all the time and have to refill the nectar daily to keep them happy. But it’s worth it for the entertainment they bring!
One year I was on the phone when the first hummingbird of summer arrived. There I was, tilted back in the chair in my office at home having a long overdue chat with a friend, when I heard his frantic racket. I looked through the blinds to see him hovering at just the spot where I usually hang a feeder each year.
In the three seconds we made eye contact, the hummingbird seemed to clearly say to me, “Well, fine. I fly here all the way from Mexico, and you can’t even bother to get off the phone and put out the feeder!”
As much delight as they bring, and as much effort as they put into the trip, we really should greet these summer visitors with a bit more pomp and circumstance. Even if you aren’t much of a bird watcher, these birds will get your attention. They might suddenly appear just behind a paperback you’re reading out on the back deck only to dart off sideways as soon as you look up. Such antics are hard to ignore!
It’s also hard to ignore their gorgeous coloring. As with other birds, the males are the showiest. Interestingly, some of the most brilliant colors are not created by pigment in the feathers, but rather are iridescent reflections from the feathers themselves. One more sign of God’s amazing creativity.
There are 338 varieties of hummingbirds, 16 in the United States, and all of them are attracted to the color red. They prefer tubular red flowers and need to consume half their weight in sugar daily just to stay in the air!
If you succeed in attracting these interesting little hummers to your yard, remember they have incredible memories and high expectations. They will come back to the same feeders year after year, so once you become a destination point, be sure to keep the feeders up…and filled…well into the fall.
As difficult as this summer has been for those of us in Colorado, there’s still joy to be found. Given all that has happened, I’m keenly aware of the comforts of home, husband, and hummingbirds—and more determined than ever not to take any of them for granted.
Mike Rhoda says
Well said and well timed. Thanks, Nancy!
Beth Lueders says
I think some of us would like to consume half of our weight in sugar each day, too. 🙂 Thanks for reminding us all to stop and see the everyday joys of life.
You’re welcome, Beth. It sometimes seems like I’m trying to eat that much sugar, too!
Julie Abel says
Nancy, this post reminded me of just how much I have missed nature this Summer. With the fires and everything being so busy, I haven’t had a chance to really get outside at all! That changes tomorrow- I hopefully will climb Pikes Peak for the first time! And next week Jeff and I go on vacation in the mountains. I may not see hummingbirds, but I will see something beautiful!
Hi Julie! I’m sure you’ll see hummingbirds in the mountains. They seem to prefer the cooler air. Enjoy!!
Lea Ann says
Your article came with perfect timing. Just this morning the Lord met me in an amazing way through Ps 121 as I am choosing to rest in Him. He is the “keeper of my soul” to protect me from evil and He guards my “going out and coming in”. I have said countless times since we have come home, “I can’t go out of or come into my neighborhood w/o tears.” Yesterday was an especially hard day but this morning I was refreshed according to the words of that Psalm!! As I went “out” looking at the black/charred mountain I chose to praise him for SO many spared lives and 1500+ spared homes. AND as I came “in” I noticed, for the first time, that someone had placed pots of flowers on either side of the entrance to Majestic Drive. That speaks HOPE! And as I came “into” my own neighborhood two women were weeping and embracing by the side of the road. God is SO good and there is still joy!!
Lea Ann, obviously it’s going to take much more than hummingbirds to take all the pain of the wildfire away, but I’m so glad you are beginning to see beauty and joy in the ashes. God bless.
Beautifully done, Nancy. During the fire, when we went to Kansas, we took my hanging baskets of flowers with us. When we packed to return we left them with our grandchildren. Reading your essay reminded me that we’d left their colorful flower treats in Kansas! Tomorrow I go out for more.
Happy hunting, Marylin! There seem to be a lot of hummers around now so hopefully you will attract some to your new pots.
alice scott-ferguson says
wonderful words…of LIFE
thank you my ever eloquent and excellent friend!
Thanks for reading, Alice. Miss you.
Cindy Penchoff says
Hummingbirds have long served as a reminder of God’s love! I can’t wait to hear the sound of their return and it always warms my heart to know they came back! Even when I get very busy and forget to add food daily, they remind me with the gentle dive bombing when I step outside. There is a woman in California who has a webcam on a nest where eggs are laid every year. This year there were two eggs and I was able to watch daily as it went from eggs hatching to fledging last week. What a reminder of God’s amazing glories!!!!!!
I agree, Cindy. It’s so fun to have our hummingbird connection!!
Mike Rhoda says
Just by way of follow-up, I was sitting on our little back deck one recent morning, sharing you hummingbird story with my wife, Julie, when a hummingbird came around the corner of the house…levitated between us for just a moment…and zipped off to who knows where. Since I hadn’t recalled seeing one in our yard before, we took it as a sign to get a feeder. Now the visits are starting to become more regular.
Hooray! It’s worth ever gram of sugar you have to feed them. They are the best cheap entertainment in town. Enjoy!