My most memorable moment in Cuba, Oct. 21-Nov. 4, lasted less than 15 seconds.
I wasn’t expecting it, hoping for it, praying for it. But there it was, right in front of me, first hovering, then diving right past my left shoulder. Two other hummingbirds buzzed in the tree above.
I was alone on the trail.
My eyes opened wide when I saw the flash of iridescent blue-green wings heading my way.
I knew I had never seen a bird like this one,
but I had no idea how rare it was.
Now, however, having researched online, I discovered that the name of my forest-dwelling, brightly plumed swooper is the Bee Hummingbird:
- the smallest bird in the world
- native to Cuba
- even in Cuba found only in a few areas
- one of these areas is near the Comandancia La Plata in the Sierra Maestra mountains, the place where Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and a handful of rebels launched their attacks on Batista’s army in 1953 and continued to use as a headquarters until 1958 when they marched into Havana. I took a guided tour of this place October 26 to see the headquarters, now a museum. I was with a group of Canadians in the “posse” of Jenny Cressman.
- but the thing I will remember most is the visitation of the bird within the thick forest on the way down the mountain.
- the blue color that arrested me is found only on the male in mating season
- Cubans give their native hummingbird the name “Zunzuncito.” Perfect onamatapoeia.
Yesterday I discovered a delightful article in The New York Times by Constance Casey that describes the bee hummingbird as a treasure to be cherished. One of over 300 species of birds found on the island, this one is almost, but not quite, an endangered species.
Perhaps the same can be said of human beings on planet earth.
“Take this message home,” whispered the zunzuncito.
It seemed, so close to Advent, like a kind of annunciation.
I need your help to decipher the message. Have you ever been visited suddenly in a similar way? Do tell!