To be and not be a hummingbird

Today while doing the dishes, looking out my window, I saw on a branch just five feet away, a hummingbird. This hummingbird was not floating majestically in the air with her wings moving in a blur. She was standing on a branch of a Pinion Pine. For what seemed like an eternity to watch a hummingbird, I was witness to her private time. She first appeared to be cleaning her very long pointy beak. She swiped her beak back and forth on both sides against the branch on which she stood, reminding me of how I might sharpen a knife.

It was astonishing to see a hummingbird for this long, and to observe behavior other than fluttering up to a flower or tree. As I watched while this precious creature stood on the branch, still not hovering, she then began to preen her feathers with that long now cleaned (and sharpened?) beak. Back and forth on both sides. And as she did this, she extended her head so unnaturally and, I thought, unbecoming of the expected grace and beauty that is “hummingbird”. I now noticed that most of her head was bright red, and when she turned and preened I could see this clearly, and, she had a deep bright green stripe much like a collar. Her breast was white with grey and her feathers were white, black and grey.

I noticed in between these preenings from side to side, she would stop and look straight up in the air, skyward, with her long slender beak pointing up and eyes closed, her head sinking down and back slightly and her neck fattening just a bit. I wondered if she was actually sleeping, resting, or feeling some sense of great relaxation and joy — that is what it looked like to me, a great sense of pleasure and calm, this looking up toward the sky. She would do that for about 5 seconds, and then more preening. I was so thrilled to witness this special scene. I kept thinking that she would fly away at any moment, but it lasted and lasted. I did the dishes glancing up, still there, amazing.

Next, I saw a different ritual emerging. I thought at first, it was the beginning of taking flight. Instead, it was something like a hummingbird stretch. I watched as she fanned her tail feathers, puffed her breast and fanned out her wings, giving a slight tremble, a slight shake to her whole body. This tiny little creature so grand in her own way. She did this several times, slowly and in a most enjoyable way. I was amazed to see it.

Finally after such a long unexpected grace, she did take flight, hovering in the air and making hummingbird sounds. I thought that was the end of our visit, but instead, she circled around to a closer branch and stood again, now even closer to me. I slid the open window slowly to the right in order to watch through only one pane of glass instead of two. Slowly slowly, but she didn’t seem to care about any noise that I made, and we continued our nonverbal meeting. This time she just stood there, looking around, making quick turns of her head and alternately cleaning and preening, looking up, as if she was showing me the routine again, even closer, as if to say, have you got it now?

I did get it. What she showed me and what I took from our encounter, was that there is always time to take care of oneself. No matter how much there is to do, how many flowers to flit among, or how many hummingbird feeders to visit, there is time for rest and caring, for not being the expectation of what others think of as a hummingbird, and enjoying that time fully in those moments. It is not a luxury nor is it stealing time for oneself, it is simply practical, unapologetic and joyful to celebrate oneself, take care lovingly, and look up at the sky and smile.

I have an animal whispering practice, if you would like to know more visit Whisper Align.