Hummingbirds don’t share. They each claim exclusive rights to my feeder and they stand guard in the branches of the Palo Verde tree, zooming out to dive-bomb any others who would dare take a drink. The two will then soar and swoop and attack and retreat at lightning speeds, and finally rest, waiting for a chance to quietly sneak down to the feeder for a quick drink before the territorial combat begins again.

I’ve never seen them injure one another. Their long, slender bills are fragile, designed to reach deep into the mouth of a flower, not for combat. They challenge without attacking; they assert ownership without resorting to bloodshed.

Their speed and agility in the air is beautiful to watch. And when they pause and the sunlight strikes their feathers at just the right angle, they light up in brilliant reds and violets and greens.

I held a hummingbird once. I watched it fly into a window and fall to the ground, stunned. I thought it must be dead, but when I picked it up in my hand it was clearly alive, seemingly uninjured, just dazed. So incredibly tiny. I held it loosely in my closed fist with its head out and lightly stroked its feathers for several minutes until I began to think it had recovered. Then I opened my hand. It stood still, grasping my finger, looking around, regaining its strength, and then in a thrumming buzz it flew away.

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