The Brave Hummingbird

In Spanish, colibrí translates to hummingbird. I admire the hummingbird. They are petite yet have an impact with their speedy little wings and silky colourful feathers. They are fierce fighters (when need be), but also have deeper representation in the animal and spirit world.

I have been inspired by the hummingbird since many years ago when I first came across a short story, which finds its origins with the Quechuan people in South America: Flight of the Hummingbird: a Parable for the Environment by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas.

Kenyan Environmental Activist Wangari Maanthai tells the story here: I will be a Hummingbird.


We are constantly being bombarded by problems that we face and sometimes we can get completely overwhelmed.

The story of the hummingbird is about this huge forest being consumed by a fire. All the animals in the forest come out and they are transfixed as they watch the forest burning and they feel very overwhelmed, very powerless, except this little hummingbird. It says, ‘I’m going to do something about the fire!’ So it flies to the nearest stream and takes a drop of water. It puts it on the fire, and goes up and down, up and down, up and down, as fast as it can.

In the meantime all the other animals, much bigger animals like the elephant with a big trunk that could bring much more water, they are standing there helpless. And they are saying to the hummingbird, ‘What do you think you can do? You are too little. This fire is too big. Your wings are too little and your beak is so small that you can only bring a small drop of water at a time.’

But as they continue to discourage it, it turns to them without wasting any time and it tells them, ‘I am doing the best I can.’

And that to me is what all of us should do. We should always be like a hummingbird. I may be insignificant, but I certainly don’t want to be like the animals watching the planet goes down the drain. I will be a hummingbird, I will do the best I can.

This story has always inspired me to never give up and do what I can – no matter how “little” I think I am or how little I think I am doing – if we all bring our own drops of water, it will put out the fire.

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