The Hummingbird Outside My Window: Is It Huitzilopochtli?


Here in Mexico, hummingbirds — or colibrís in espanol — are fortunately very common, even in the deep urban quarters of my neighborhood in Mexico City.

Across our patio is a large tree, which must be the home for at least 100 different pairs of birds, including doves, red-headed finches, pigeons and hummingbirds. This week we installed a hummingbird feeder, meaning I get to watch the little guys swoop back and forth, and lately, fight it out for access to the feeder. It’s a bit like watching two Tinkerbells fight — they divebomb each other, then hover, staring at each other with their little angel-like wings flapping madly. I can usually hear their chirping before I see them.

Hundreds of years ago, these same birds — with their bright plumage, spunky attitudes and amazing flying abilities — inspired the Aztecs to name their greatest temple after the important hummingbird god, Huitzilopochtli. This temple was located in the heart of Tenochtitlan, the vast Aztec city that existed long before Mexico City, and as recent as this month is still being discovered below the soil.

And among the Mayans over in the Yucatan, the hummingbird is the center of several myths, including one that says the Tzunuum (you can hear the hummingbird’s wings when you say that word) would pierce the tongue of kings with its beak. The blood was poured onto scrolls and burned, allowing ancestors to appear.

(I sometimes wonder if the incredibly vivid dreams I have in Mexico have something to do with the land I’m perched upon — its soil is rich with story.)

hummingbird 2

9 thoughts on “The Hummingbird Outside My Window: Is It Huitzilopochtli?

  1. Betty Victory says:

    Vivid dreams??? Maybe that comes from some of those exotic drinks—like the Pulque. Or maybe some of that exotic fruit got a little fermented.

    Awwww the pictures are sweet.

  2. DKN says:

    Oh yeah! I meant to say when I first saw this that absolutely MUST send that last picture of the hummingbird drink to Cuteoverload!

    And what a beautiful thing:

    I sometimes wonder if the incredibly vivid dreams I have in Mexico have something to do with the land I’m perched upon — its soil is rich with story.

  3. Kay Callison says:

    I have no doubt that the soil of Mexico City is full of spirits. How wonderful that you are getting to live there, to see and photograph these breathtakingly beautiful birds, and to dream vivid dreams. Remember that the magical realists write out of a tradition that presumes the world of dreams to be just as real as the waking state. Just different.

  4. Sheri says:

    Lovely post! Since you’re new to hummingbird feeding, you may not have heard that artificial red coloring in feeder solutions is unnecessary and potentially harmful to the birds (as it might be to us if we drank 3 to 5 times our weight in cherry Kool Aid every day!). Just 4 parts water to one part white sugar is all you need. Enjoy, Joy, and dream of hummingbirds!

  5. Joy says:

    Thanks Sheri — I’m changing out the liquid today and not adding the red dye. (Our feeder directions said you only needed to use the red dye once to attract the hummingbirds, after that you don’t need to add it.)

    I now have some very peeved hummingbirds flitting about, wondering where the feeder went!

  6. joy callison says:

    Was playing on he internet and hunting Joy Callisons, I am from Pryor, Okla, now living in Tulsa, Real Estate and Land work have been my careers am now retired, yes humming birds are fun

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