Native American Legends
Gift to the Hummingbird
A Mayan Legend
Tzunuum, the hummingbird, was created by the Great Spirit as a
tiny, delicate bird with extraordinary flying ability. She was the
only bird in the kingdom who could fly backwards and who could hover
in one spot for several seconds. The hummingbird was very plain.
Her feathers had no bright colors, yet she didn't mind. Tzunuum
took pride in her flying skill and was happy with her life despite
When it came time to be married, Tzunuum found that she had neither
a wedding gown nor a necklace. She was so disappointed and sad that
some of her best friends decided to create a wedding dress and jewelry
as a surprise.
Ya, the vermilion-crowned flycatcher wore a gay crimson ring of
feathers around his throat in those days. He decided to use it as
his gift. So he tucked a few red plumes in his crown and gave the
rest to the hummingbird for her necklace. Uchilchil, the bluebird,
generously donated several blue feathers for her gown. The vain
motmot, not to be outdone, offered more turquoise blue and emerald
green. The cardinal, likewise, gave some red ones.
Then, Yuyum, the oriole, who was an excellent tailor as well as
an engineer, sewed up all the plumage into an exquisite wedding
gown for the little hummingbird. Ah-leum, the spider, crept up with
a fragile web woven of shiny gossamer threads for her veil. She
helped Mrs. Yuyum weave intricate designs into the dress. Canac,
the honeybee, heard about the wedding and told all his friends who
knew and liked the hummingbird. They brought much honey and nectar
for the reception and hundreds of blossoms that were Tzunuum's favorites.
Then the Azar tree dropped a carpet of petals over the ground where
the ceremony would take place. She offered to let Tzunuum and her
groom spend their honeymoon in her branches. Pakal, the orange tree,
put out sweet-smelling blossoms, as did Nicte, the plumeria vine.
Haaz (the banana bush), Op the custard apple tree) and Pichi and
Put (the guava and papaya bushes) made certain that their fruits
were ripe so the wedding guests would find delicious refreshments.
And, finally, a large band of butterflies in all colors arrived
to dance and flutter gaily around the hummingbird's wedding site.
When the wedding day arrived, Tzunuum was so surprised, happy and
grateful that she could barely twitter her vows. The Great Spirit
so admired her humble, honest soul that he sent word down with his
messenger, Cozumel, the swallow, that the hummingbird could wear
her wedding gown for the rest of her life. And, to this day, she
has. How did the humility of one long-ago hummingbird cause its
descendants to sport brilliant colors?
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