I held a hummingbird in my hand today

I held a hummingbird in my hand today.

To hold such a tiny, beautiful creature was thrilling. It was as if time had stopped in my hand. There were over a hundred other hummingbirds zipping past my head on the patio of Tandayapa Lodge in the Ecuador Andes Mountain range, but this one—this Violet-tailed Sylph—was silently resting in my palm. In this moment I felt powerful enough to stop everything around me, as if I were Moses about ready to part the Red Sea. I stopped time with this sweet little bird that zips around all day, yet instead of zipping around, he was still and sitting in my hand.


I held a hummingbird in my hand today.

I had only met the Violet-tailed Sylph for the first time a few days ago during this trip to the Ecuador cloud forest. When I first saw its iridescent colors and long shimmering violet blue tail, I had gasped because it seemed like I had just seen a unicorn, and then I whispered to my husband, “Oh, I love that one.”

As I held the bright blue and violet bird he was panting and breathing fast. He was stunned because he just flew into a window. He stopped to catch his breath and let me hold him as he rested. He was confused and kept looking up at me, probably scared. While I cradled him in my hand I wondered how long he would rest there before flying away. I wondered how long before he would die.

Violet Tailed Sylth looks at me

I held a hummingbird in my hand today.

It was all my fault. I left the door open at the lodge and he apparently flew in. I suppose that in trying to get out he must have thought the big glass paned window was the pathway to his world outside. My eyes welled up as I looked into his. I think I’ve killed this little bird by my carelessness. Sure he will fly off but it’s just a matter of time before his little body will give in to the blow. I can’t take back what I’ve done. There’s no power in holding a hummingbird, really.

Injured Violet-tailed Sylth on the railing

I held a hummingbird in my hand today.

After five minutes of him looking at me and me looking at him he flew off and rested on the wrought iron railing, still panting. He struggled a few times to fly to a gigantic leaf nearby and then flew back to the railing for more secure footing. This happened three times and then he flew away. I hope he is okay. I want him to be okay.

I held a hummingbird in my hand today.


Violet-tailed Sylth (copyright Lisa Boice)

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