The legend of the hummingbird


Sitting in the plane on my final leg of a three-flight trip to the city at the end of the earth, Ushuaia, I paged through the Aerolineas Argentinas in-flight magazine. I rarely buy magazines any longer, as I prefer to travel light and definitely wish to save more trees. I always make time onboard any flight to savour paging through the one there. That feel and sound of flipping through actual magazine pages is something one can’t recreate by reading online.

I am fascinated by myths and legends and always eager to learn about the local stories when I travel. I spotted an article that day in February; and it has been present with me ever since. Today I want to share it here.

This legend belongs to the Guarani people, who live in the south-central part of South America, including Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia. There are no written records and the traditions and myths were passed down verbally.

The area where they lived was brightly coloured by flora, fauna and birds, which ignited the imagination. There were two young people deeply in love living in the jungle a long time ago. Her name was Flor (Flower) and his, Agil (Agile). As fate would have it, they belonged to different tribes, and their families did not like each other. Their romance was forbidden, yet their love was stronger.

Flor and Agil managed to meet again and again to exchange passionate moments and embraces, before having to pull themselves apart until the next time.

Until one day, Flor did not arrive at the shady spot next to a stream where they regularly met. Agil waited until dusk, but Flor never appeared.

The Guarani god Tupa, the supreme god of all creation, had found her weeping desperately. Her parents, upon discovering the young love, had forbidden her to see her beloved again. Since Flor did not want to live any longer, Tupa agreed to turn her into a flower.

The moon whispered this sad story to the boy as he waited. Now it was his turn to beg Tupa for help. The supreme god heard him and another metamorphosis started taking place. Agil grew smaller and smaller, until he became a tiny delicate bird with a very fine, long beak and brightly coloured feathers. In the moonlight, he had a shimmering green body with a blue-violet throat. Agil had become a hummingbird.

He did not know which flower could be his beloved, so he fluttered from flower to flower looking for her and drinking the nectar as he went. As he flies around searching for his love, the little hummingbird bears the dreamy wishes of all men and women with it.

We find a multitude of legends told about this little messenger throughout many cultures, especially in Latin America and including those told by the Mayans, Aztecs and Incas. You will even find a hummingbird nestled amongst the Nasca lines. As a spirit animal, the hummingbird is often seen as a messenger of the gods bringing joy and love (and healing) with it.

The early Spanish explorers called them flying jewels. This sparks a beautiful image in my mind’s eye.  When I have spotted them in near and faraway places, their beauty and agility always mesmerize me. And they bring me absolute delight, especially when I can sit with my mom in her tiny back garden and watch them at her feeder. Mommy, this one’s for you, as I know that watching ‘your’ birds brings you true joy.

If you liked this story and wish to read another, you may also enjoy the Maori legends of Tane Mahuta or the fish of Maui.

May this tiniest bird in the world, and the only one that can fly both forwards and backwards, bring us all much joy in our simple present moments today. What simple thing brings you joy today? Take a moment to jot it down.

simply sharing, Delicia

2 thoughts on “The legend of the hummingbird

  1. dear Delicia, thanks for such beautiful story, when i see these tiny birds i always think they are kissing the flowers , in some places they are called flowers kissers. hugs and kisses to you 😘

    • Dear Elizabeth, I love that. Now I will also think of them kissing the flowers when I next see them. It fits in so perfectly with the legend. Big hugs xxx

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