I’ve learned a lot about hummingbirds in the garden over the years. I’ve learned that they are not only incredibly beautiful creatures, but that they are also quite delicate. I’ve also learned that they are one of the most agile animals in the world – able to fly backward and upside down with ease.
What I didn’t know until recently, however, is just how fascinating these little creatures are. For example, did you know that a hummingbird’s heart can beat up to 1,200 times per minute? Or that they can travel up to 60 miles per hour?
Hummingbirds are also incredibly efficient eaters. They can consume up to half their body weight in food each day! This high metabolism allows them to fly for long periods of time without getting tired. Hummingbirds are cool little creatures, and there is still so much we don’t know about them (other than not feeding them the pink liquid sugar syrup, am I right?).
These tiny birds are truly amazing, and it’s no wonder that so many people enjoy watching them flit around in their gardens. If you ever get the chance to see a hummingbird in person, be sure to stop and truly witness it before they fly away – you won’t regret it!
In today’s story, My Little Visitor, author Jo James of Marshall, VA recalls a hummingbird she made friends with over the Summer, and hopes she comes back after the Winter.
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This story about hummingbirds in the garden comes from our archive that spans over 30 years and includes more than 130 magazine issues of GreenPrints. Pieces like these that turn stories of gardening into everyday life lessons always brighten up my day, and I hope this story does for you as well. Enjoy!
My Little Visitor
By Jo James of Marshall, VA
Last summer while I was picking raspberries, I had a curious little visitor—a hummingbird. First she dashed by, but then she did an about-face and hovered just two feet in front of me. I stopped picking and stood still, pleased to be so close to this tiny creature.
Suddenly, just as quickly as she came, she flew away.
I moved on down the row, and she found me again! This time I continued to pick. She carefully watched me as I did—and even moved in a little closer.
Then she zipped off again. The next thing I knew, she and her mate were sitting on a wire near the vegetable garden. They surveyed me for a few moments and then vanished.
All summer long, every time I harvested—morning, afternoon, or evening—the female hummingbird came to observe. I liked to think it was me she was fascinated with. But I do know she had an eye for red: red berries, red peppers, etc. Once she zoomed in on the red tomatoes lining my windowsill. She zeroed in on each one, backed off, and then checked out the next.
Whatever the hummingbird’s motive, I treasured her visits. In September, the weather cooled and she left for warmer climes.
I miss her. I hope she comes back this year! ❖
By Jo James of Marshall, VA, published originally in 2015-16, in GreenPrints Issue #104. Illustrated by Kate O’Hara
Do you have hummingbirds in the garden? Or do you make little animal friends like this? My daughter loves a little chipmunk she named “Rook” that visits our fire pit when we cook outside. I’d love to hear your stories!