The circle of life

Lessons from the hummingbirds

I went to a cafe recently and sat outdoors (in these ‘unprecedented times’ better to be covid-conscious). The cafe is gorgeous and it has a garden. You’d hardly know you were in Hermosillo if it weren’t for the searing heat and the guy using a leaf blower right near your table and blowing shit all over you instead of just telling you to move (or waiting).

Cafe Oaxaca in Hermosillo

What I did see is a lot of hummingbirds, which are really common in Mexico – there are 13 species here in Sonora!

So I’ve become a bit obsessed with hummingbirds (or colíbries in Spanish). They are tiny ethereal creatures who are revered here in Mexico – in Aztec mythology, they represent the sun god Huitzilopochtli, and the hummingbird is the symbol of strength to follow your dreams. Like any animal unfortunate enough to be associated with magic and mystic, there is always a dark side – read about it in this fascinating National Geographic article if you’re interested.

The broadbilled hummingbird – the most common in Hermosillo

After I found out about these adorable creatures, I set out to attract them to our back patio. I’ve hung some feeders, which we fill with a sugar and water mixture and we’ve bought some potted flowers in bright colours. It took a little while, but as they say, if you build it, they will come. We have many little visitors during the day and watching them brings me a lot of pleasure. I didn’t realise how much they fight! For tiny little guys, they certainly punch on a lot!

I like taking my cup of tea and pan de muerto out in the afternoon to sit and watch them (it is a bit terrifying when they flutter in front of your face or zoom over your head though!) In a year which has been kind of shit, this has been a bright spot!

So where is the lesson in this, you might ask? Today I was sitting on the bed and I saw a big bird, with really incredible markings, sort of like a white and brown peacock, sitting on the fence. Piolo told me that he thought it might be a carpintero (woodpecker). His father told us it was a correcamino (roadrunner). I was really excited, being a fan of the cartoon and to see a new bird.
In true 2020 fashion, a quick google search revealed that correcaminos eat snakes, scorpions, worms, bugs (so far, so good)… and small birds such as colibries (noooooooo!). Suddenly the big, beautiful bird looked like an evil prehistoric chicken who I now kind of hope gets zapped by the electric fence on top of our back wall, so it goes away, or if we kill it and eat it, is that more ethical and what would it taste like? I hate to think that it arrived because it has followed the colibries to our garden.

Evil chicken

Apparently because the colibries are so fast, they are not the easiest prey, but the correcaminos can jump vertically and sometimes catch them. I mean, beyond somehow luring a coyote (which also live here) to the yard to eat the correcamino, then a lynx to eat the coyote (a lynx was found in an empty school here last week), there’s not much I can do. It’s hard to David Attenborough this one and not intervene.

It’s the circle of life, but why does it have to be so damn brutal? Hopefully not karma for hiding from el vecino gallo!

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