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Have you ever heard a hummingbird fly by, making that amazing hum sound with wings that beat faster than any other bird?
 
I have often thought that a giant insect had just swooshed by my head! Hummingbirds are so amazing! They can fly backwards, up, down, and sideways, as well as hover, making wing strokes in a figure-eight pattern. I think part of the mystique around hummingbirds is their incredibly small size. Once I found a hummingbird feather on a rhubarb leaf that was so tiny, so delicate, that if I even just took a breath, it would float away!
 
In North America, there are fifteen species of hummingbirds, of which only five nest in Canada. Since I live in Eastern Canada, most of my experiences with hummingbirds have been with the Ruby-throated species. When I was in Costa Rica and visited the SelvaturaHummingbird Garden, I was amazed to discover that more than fourteen species, of all shapes, colors, and sizes, may be seen in the garden. I watched as they fought over the feeders and aggressively defended their space.
 
One memorable time, in Sedona, Arizona, I saw a hummingbird sitting on its nest. I was visiting Montezuma Well, a collapsed underground limestone cavern filled with water, where more than a million gallons of water flow continuously each day, providing a lush, verdant oasis amid desert grassland. Prehistoric Hohokamand Sinaguacultures lived there, and the foundations of their dwellings can still be seen. There are barely words to describe the serenity of this place—the sun-dappled rocks, the old stone walls, the sycamore trees with their large umbrella-like leaves and gray mottledtrunks, and the lush greenery near the water. On the far shore of the stream the ground rises, arid and brown. The ruins, the water, and the huge Arizona Sycamorescreate a very special energy.
 
I was sitting on a beautiful flat rock at the top of a path that led down to the well, absorbing the atmosphere with each of my senses: the water running over the rocks below, the little lizard sunning itself beside me on the rock, the sun on my back, and the scent of honeysuckle wafting by. A sense of inner calm came to me. The sounds of people talking and the tap of their footsteps on the path floated by. Everything disappeared except for a deep sense of peace.
 
I lifted binoculars to my eyes, taking in the details of the scene. A gorgeous iridescent hummingbird flew into my line of vision, a female Broad-tailed Hummingbird, I believe. It had dazzling green upperparts and a glossy emerald head. I was able to follow its flight back to the crook of a tree where it alitand sat in its tiny nest, poking its head out. I watched for a long time, lost in its beauty. I finally lowered the binoculars but soon wanted to look again. The hummingbird was impossible to find! The green feathers blended in perfectly with the leaves. The wee nest made of plant fibers and bits of leaves, held together with spider silk and barely two inches wide, was virtually invisible.
 
Another striking experience with hummingbirds occurred near Hope, British Columbia, where I was visiting. I happened to meet an Indigenous elder. We felt such a connection that she invited me to her place for a healing session. Honored, I joined her there and she asked me to lie on her healing table with my eyes closed. At the end of this experience, she told me that she had placed a desiccated hummingbird over my heart. When she went to remove it, some of the feathers remained on my chest. She gave them to me and said the feathers were meant to stay with me. I accepted this treasure gratefully.
 
I didn’t see the healer again—she had told me she would be setting out to walk south across North America, and I would not be surprised if she had done so. I am grateful for the time she took to be with me and to share the healing powers of the hummingbird.

I included the Ruby-throated Hummingbird in the Bird Vibes Meditation Cards deck because I could not conceive of an avian deck without a hummingbird! Since the deck is divided into eight chakras, I needed to allocate the hummingbird to one. I decided that since this little bird migrates up to 1,200 miles and protects its space so well, the hummingbird should be in the third chakra, symbolizing strength and personal power.

I hope the Ruby-throated Hummingbird will remind you that regardless of appearance or size, you can develop boundaries, focus on your strengths, and astound yourselves and others! As noted in the Ruby-throated Hummingbird card in the Bird Vibes Meditation deck, “Allow your instincts to guide you.”

Catherine C. Bastedo has taught Reiki at all levels, led workshops and retreats, volunteered as a wellness coach for cancer survivors, and sat on the board of a nonprofit organization devoted to women’s health. She practices yoga and meditation and writes online articles related to complementary health. Catherine spent her childhood in northwestern Ontario, obtained her MA in Canadian studies, and now lives in Gatineau, Quebec. She enjoyed a career at a senior level with the Canadian government and then was executive director of an international nonprofit that promoted and supported Canadian studies, before turning to her writing and energy work. She loves spending time with family, being outdoors, and traveling, and is always curious to learn about the flora and fauna of other countries, especially the birds! For more information, please visit


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