Hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world and the only one that can fly backwards. He has to eat more than his weight every day or he will die, yet he manages to cross hundreds of miles of open ocean on his annual migrations by storing fat just before his trip. At night, he goes into a torpor to conserve energy. Some of his feathers have pigment, but much of his spectacular iridescent color comes from light hitting myriads of tiny prisms in his feathers. When mating, he dives on his prospective mate from high up in the air and pulls up sharply making a very loud chirp like sound with his tail feathers. (Hard to believe, but curious scientists have proven that the tail feathers are what makes the sound. They had to use a wind tunnel to do it!)
Hummingbird is currently endemic to the New World, but recent fossil discoveries indicate that a very long time ago he probably existed in Europe as well. It had to have been a very long time ago because the Celts, the Greeks and the Egyptians don't mention him. We find him all over the legends in North and South America, however, with the Aztec sun god, Hitzilopochtli, depicted as Hummingbird. The Mayans also associated him with the sun. In Trinidad he is identified with dead ancestors. Mojave Indians believe that Hummingbird led people to the surface from deep inside the bowels of the earth. Here in California, some Native Americans credit Hummingbird with having introduced fire to the world. There are also a lot of stories involving love and fertility.