Hummingbird Meaning and Symbolism: Spirit Animal Guide

Hummingbird and hibiscus flowers

Hummingbird Meanings

Though they are tiny beings, hummingbirds pack a lot of powerful, positive energy. It’s no surprise that hummingbirds hold joyful symbolic meaning to people all over the world.

Of course, hummingbirds are not here for us; they exist of their own accord. Yet, learning about hummingbirds and their meaning to ancient and modern cultures helps us to understand our world and ourselves better. Learning about hummingbirds can guide us on our life path here on Earth, as well as our soul’s journey. The key is to be open and receptive.

Hummingbird meaning and symbolism varies to different people and will at different times of your life. Depending on what you seek guidance about, the hummingbird spirit guide can trigger your sub-conscious for better understanding of the issue. While animal symbolism can vary from individual to individual and culture to culture, there is such a thing as collective consciousness – commonalities in our awareness that we all share.

Here are common hummingbird meanings:

  • Joy

  • Healing

  • Beauty

  • Sweetness

  • Good Luck

  • Variety

  • Angels

  • Spirits

  • Messengers

  • Flirtatiousness

  • Agility

When you see a hummingbird…

If a hummingbird comes into your purview, pay attention. There are no coincidences. Seeing a hummingbird in rea life, in a dream, in art, or the media can help to reconnect you to Universal Wisdom, and with that, messages from your spirit guides.

How do you know if the hummingbird is one of your spirit animals?

Girl and Hummingbird Spirit AnimalAccording to Native American traditions, you can have more than one spirit animal. And in most cases, you don’t choose your spirit animal; they choose you. This might happen on a vision quest or when a particular animal rivets your attention and has a profound effect on your existence. It is important to be receptive to what you can learn from the interaction.

Many of us know people who don’t take the time to notice animals. These people are overly preoccupied with their humanness. If you are reading this, you are not one of those people. Yet, as human beings, we all run the risk of becoming overly absorbed in ourselves and other humans. The hummingbird spirit, with her beautiful colors and vibrating wings, reminds you to step outside of your thoughts and notice the wonder of the world around you.

If you are wondering whether the hummingbird is one of your spirit animals, consider the questions below. If you already know, you may learn some new things about hummingbirds in this post that will help to guide you on your soul’s journey. There is always more that we can learn from these beautiful beings. You can learn more about the general topic of power animals in UniGuide’s post about spirit animals.

Questions to consider:

  • Has a hummingbird made himself of herself known to you in a way that riveted your attention? This could be by flying in front of you as you’re walking, or flittering outside your window. It could also be a hummingbird that grabs your attention in a piece of art or literature, on a piece of jewelry, in the media, or elsewhere.
  • Were you especially interested in hummingbirds as child? Children come into this world remembering aspects of their past lives, so children’s interests should never be taken for granted.
  • Do you ever dream about a hummingbird or a hummingbirds?
    Have certain stories, books, or movies that involved hummingbirds had a strong impact on you?
  • Do you feel an affinity with hummingbirds and experience a powerful sense of curiosity about them?
  • Hummingbirds have special qualities that can symbolize different aspects of your personality and your life. They are worth exploring. Here are a few.

Vibrant Beauty and Variety

Sapphire-throated hummingbird
Sapphire-throated hummingbird (Lepidopyga coeruleogularis coeruleogularis). Photo: Charles J. Sharp.

These beautiful little birds come in a vibrant array of jewel-like colors. In addition, hummingbirds are associated with flowers, as they dart in and out from flower to flower looking for nectar. In doing so, the hummingbirds collect pollen and thus pollinate other flowers.

The hummingbird spirit reminds you to welcome diversity into your life and to honor the richness of variety. Too much routine has the potential to drag you down and put things on autopilot, so you stop evolving. If the hummingbird didn’t jump from flower to flower, it would limit pollination, and thus organic growth. Your hummingbird power animal advises you that is you feel stuck or you don’t have answers – do something different. Switch up your routine and be conscious of having the same thoughts over and over. Look for and embrace the other shades of color in the rainbow.

Flirtatiousness

Cattelya Orchid and Three Brazilian Hummingbirds by Martin Johnson Heade
Cattelya Orchid and Three Brazilian Hummingbirds by Martin Johnson Heade, 1871.

Hummingbirds are also symbols of flirtatiousness. They fly quickly from blossom to blossom, enjoying the nectar of a variety of flowers. Indeed, unlike swans and eagles, hummingbirds do not mate for life. This is not to say that the meaning of seeing a hummingbird is to go out and have an affair or to avoid commitment! But the hummingbird spirit maybe be telling you to lighten up and have a little more fun. Perhaps it’s too soon in your life to get into a serious relationship. Perhaps it’s best to date for a while and keep thing light, so you can be sure you’re finding the right person for you.

And if you’re in a “serious” relationship, the hummingbird spirit may be telling you to lighten up. As a couple, switch up your routine and have some fun. Even if you’re known someone for a long time, you can still flirt!

Agility

Hummingbird Pollinating a Flower

Scientists have studied the aerodynamics of hummingbirds for decades. Like dragonflies and owls, hummingbirds possess special flying abilities. Even in extremely windy conditions, hummingbirds can stabilize themselves in midair while eating at a flower or feeder. They are able to adjust to varying conditions and still achieve their goals.

The hummingbird can be telling you that life is not about waiting for the perfect conditions. Sometimes it’s not about resisting challenges, but rather, handling the ones that come your way with the utmost grace and agility. By doing this, you can achieve that which you seek. The hummingbird also says, if there is an opportunity in front of you, don’t wait. Be agile and seize the moment.

Speed, Energy, and Effectiveness

Some species of hummingbirds have hearts that beat over 1,200 times per minute, and they inhale and exhale as much as 250 breaths per minute. Needless to say, this is a very speedy little bird. In addition to being fast, hummingbirds are very important to the ecosystems in which they live. As pollinators, hummingbirds are like bees: They are foundational to life on Earth.

Though they are tiny, hummingbirds are vital to life on Earth. They are high energy and highly noticeable. Though you may feel small and insignificant at times, the pollinating hummingbird reminds you that one person can have a big impact. Whatever your dreams are – even if they may seem small by other people’s standards, when you The hummingbird’s high energy tells you to get busy! Go after your dreams with wild abandon. When you do so, you will truly be embracing the full lightness of your being.

A Few Words on Rest

As quick and busy as they are, even hummingbirds need to rest. When food is not available, hummingbirds can slow their metabolisms and enter a hibernating, deep-sleep state, which is called torpor. You may be a high-energy person who thrives on going, going, going. The hummingbird spirit reminds you to give yourself some down time. Rest and relaxation are essential for keeping yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy. Remember to take the time to recharge so you can primed to accomplish your dreams.

Health, Healing, and Vitality

Allen's hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin)
Allen’s hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin). Photo: Art Tower.

Hummingbirds share a co-evolution with flowers. In a sublime harmonious partnership, hummingbirds find the life force in the flowers, which feeds them, and in return, they pollinate other flowers, which extends the flowers’ life force. This is why the hummingbird is a symbol of health, healing, and vitality.

The hummingbird spirit guide asks you to be more conscious of what you seek for stimulation and nourishment, whether it’s food, substances, things, or relationships. Is it a truly symbiotic, balanced, and mutually healthy relationship? If not, be like a hummingbird and quickly move on. Balance, harmony, and reciprocity do exist in the world. You just have to be willing to leave that which is not harmonious in your life and find what is.

Joy, Sweetness, and Good Luck

A beloved being to many, hummingbirds are also symbols of good luck. These nectar-drinking beings tell you to live la dolce vita – the sweet life. Life can be hard on the Earthly plane. There are countless challenges and lessons to be learned as you evolve on your soul’s journey. Yet hummingbirds, just by being here, in all of their joyful, magnificent beauty, draw your attention to themselves and to flowers.

The hummingbird spirit reminds you that good luck happens when you are receptive and open to the beauty and wonder in life. An affirmation of the hummingbird is, “I make good luck happen.” Everything starts in your mind. Visualizing and being receptive to the beauty that exists here on Earth, can guide you to living your best life.

Angels, Spirits, and Messages

Princess Ruby Throat and the Hummingbird
Cover of Audubon Magazine, 1887. Princess Ruby-Throat: The Story of the Hummingbird. Image: The Audubon Society.

Like butterflies, hummingbirds are also seen as messengers from the spirit world. They are here in their Earthly manifestations for three-to-five years, so if you have an opportunity to meet a hummingbird in their lifetime, say a prayer of thanks, and think of those you love who have transitioned to the spirit world. The hummingbird a beautiful reminder to send your greetings and to honor those you love who have passed.

Ancient Hummingbird Legends

Tens of millions of years ago, hummingbirds could be found in the area of the world that is now Europe. However, in more recent Earthly history, they are native only to the Americas – with a range from southern Alaska all the way to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America. Hummingbirds can also be found in the Caribbean Islands. Because of this range, human cultures of the Americas and tropics are rich with hummingbird legends and folklore. The following are some of those stories.

Native American Hummingbird Meanings

Native Americans revere nature and animals; thus their culture has many vivid stories about the power of animal spirits and the profound role they play in human life. While Native American cultures are quite diverse, the hummingbird is viewed as a helpful spirit guide and messenger by many tribes, as well a healer and a source of good luck.

Hummingbird Meaning in Hopi and Zuni Stories

According to World of Hummingbirds, there is story told in Hopi and Zuni tradition of a famine that plagued the land. Because food and water were hard to find, two parents were forced to leave their young son and daughter behind as they went searching for food.

To pass the time while waiting, the boy carved a hummingbird out of a piece of wood. When his sister threw the toy into the air, the small bird came to life to play with the children. But soon the hummingbird began to worry about the children and their lack of food. So, she brought them an ear of corn every day to sustain them. Realizing they would need more to eat, the hummingbird flew to the center of the Earth to beg the God of Fertility to replenish the land. Impressed by the beautiful bird, the God of Fertility delivered rain, which fed the soil and helped the crops to grow again.

You will find a book about this story referenced in the section of hummingbird books below.

Apache Hummingbird Symbolism

Apache hummingbird headdress
Apache hummingbird headdress, Leaf Spirits.

In Apache folklore, there is a story of a young warrior who is deaf named Wind Dancer. Despite his deafness, Wind Dancer creates beautiful, wordless songs. Indeed, the sound is so exquisite that the songs bring fair weather and healing to the land.

One day, Wind Dancer falls in love with a beautiful woman named Bright Rain. They meet when Bright Rain is being attacked by a wolf and Wind Dancer steps in to rescue her. But early into their romance, Wind Dancer is killed tragically in battle. When he dies, winter falls onto the land.

Grieving, Bright Rain walks into an open field. And when she does, the spirit of Wind Dancer visits her in the form of a hummingbird. The small bird sings Wind Dancer’s sweet, wordless songs in Bright Rain’s ears, and she is comforted in her grief. When Bright Rain feels a sense of peace, fair weather returns to the land.

Pueblo Nation Hummingbird Legends

Most Native American tribes are based around a clan system, which is a community organization that it rooted in maternal family lines. Each clan is associated with a specific animal. For example, the Creek, Chippewa, Algonquian, Navajo, and Pueblo Nations all have bear clans. The Pueblo Nation is one tribe that also has a hummingbird clan. Thus hummingbirds have special meaning in Pueblo stories.

According to one Pueblo legend, caterpillars are the guardians of tobacco plants. But it’s the hummingbird who gathers smoke from the caterpillar and then brings it to the shamans, or medicine men, who use it to purify the Earth. In return, the hummingbird brings gifts from the shamans to the Great Mother who exists beneath the Earth.

The Hummingbird and the Rainbow

In another Pueblo legend, there was a demon who made a bet with the Sun and lost. When he lost the bet, he went blind. Filled with anger at going blind, the demon spewed hot lava, which set the Earth on fire. The hummingbird, who was a simple gray bird at the time, took it upon himself to fly around and gather rain clouds from all four directions and put out the fire. When his work was done, he flew away. But as he did, there was a rainbow in the sky, which he flew through. The rainbow blessed the hummingbird by painting him with its bright colors. To this day, members of the Pueblo Nation do a hummingbird dance to bring rain.

Hummingbird Meaning in Mayan Culture

According to stories by the Maya People, when the Sun courts the Moon, he disguises himself as a beautiful hummingbird. The Mayas also believed that the first wedding on Earth was that of two hummingbirds. The hummingbird was created by Great God who created all birds. When he was done making all birds, he had leftover pieces, so he made the first hummingbird. This bird was very small, so the Great God made sure he could fly fast.

When the hummingbird flew above the Great God, his wings made a humming sound: “dzu-nu-ume, dzu-nu-ume.” So, the Mayas called him Dzunuume, or the Hummer.
The Great God loved the little hummingbird so much that he created a mate for him and a wedding was planned.

All of the animals of the forest came to the ceremony, which was the first wedding in history. However, the other birds didn’t think the hummingbirds had enough color, so they all gave some of their feathers to the pair as wedding gifts. The Sun promised that the hummingbirds’ feathers would gleam with magic in the sunshine.

Hummingbird Symbolism to the Aztecs

Huitziláihuitl, the Second Aztec King
Huitziláihuitl, the second Aztec king, with hummingbird, by Juan de Tovar, ca. 1546-1626.

For the ancient Aztecs, the God of Sun and War was called Hitzilopochti, which translates to Hummingbird Wizard. For the Aztecs, Hitzilopochti is a very important patron god. In fact, hummingbirds were so sacred in Aztec culture that only shamans and tribal leaders were allowed to wear hummingbird feathers. And Aztec warriors believed that if they died in battle, they would be reincarnated as hummingbirds.

Taino Nation

The Taino Nation, who are in Indigenous People from the Caribbean, revered the hummingbird as a symbol of fertility for life on Earth. According to Taino legends, hummingbirds started out as flies, but Father Sun, whom they call Agueybaba, transformed them into tiny birds.

For the Taino, the hummingbird is a symbol of rebirth, and even though they are small, they have the fierce heart of an eagle. The Taino People call their warriors the “Colibri” Warriors, which translates to Hummingbird Warriors.

Hummingbird on Caribbean Airlines logo
A hummingbird is depicted on the Caribbean Airlines logo.

In other Caribbean folklore, hummingbirds are believed to be spirit messengers from departed loved ones. And in Trinidad and Tobago, the nation’s coat of arms and the national airline, Caribbean Airlines, depict a hummingbird.

Hummingbird Quotes

Hummingbirds have inspired artists and storytellers throughout the ages. Here are few quotes and poems about these colorful birds.

“Like the hummingbird sipping nectar from every flower, I fly joyfully through my days, seeing beauty in everything.”
– Amethyst Wyldfyre

“May my faith always be
at the end of the day
like a hummingbird…
returning to its favorite flower.”
– Sanober Khan, Turquoise Silence

“The hummingbird competes with the stillness of the air.”
– Chogyam Trungpa

“If I were a flower,
humming bird would be my favorite bee
And If I were blind,
the light of darkness I’d love to see.”
– Munia Khan

“I hear like you see – like that hummingbird outside that window for instance.
– Ray Charles

“There is no easy way to bathe a hummingbird.”
– Kehlog Albran

“A route of evanescence
With a revolving wheel;
A resonance of emerald,
A rush of cochineal;
And every blossom on the bush
Adjusts its tumbled head, –
The mail from Tunis, probably,
An easy morning’s ride.”
– Emily Dickinson, The Humming-Bird

Attracting and Feeding Hummingbirds

Hummingbird at feeder

There are 338 known species of hummingbirds, but only about a dozen migrate regularly to North America. Though they are tiny birds, they travel a few thousand miles every year, breeding in the north and spending winters in the south. One species, the rufous hummingbird, travels over 3,000 miles per year, from Alaska to southern Mexico.

Hummingbirds fly close to land as they migrate so they have quick access to food sources. Thus, feeding hummingbirds can help them during their travels and during nesting season. And they will remember places where they can find food from year to year.

While the best food source for hummingbirds is native flowering plants, the Audubon Society advises that supplementing their diets with sugar-water can be beneficial. While hummingbirds are attracted to the color red, hence a lot of hummingbird feeders are red, you don’t have to use food coloring in the sugar-water solution. In fact, it’s best not to. A 1:4 solution of refined white sugar and fresh water at room temperature will do the trick. Also, refined sugar is better for the birds than substances like molasses, honey, or brown sugar.

Books About Hummingbirds

The Magic Hummingbird: A Hopi Folktale
By Michael Lomatuway’ma (Compiler), Michael Lacapa (Illustrator), and Ekkehart Malotki (Translator)

The Magic Hummingbird: A Hopi Folktale
The Magic Hummingbird: A Hopi Folktale

This book is the written tale of the story mentioned above, which references hummingbird meaning in Hopi culture. With full-color illustrations, this book will be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Buy on Amazon >

A Summer of Hummingbirds
By Christopher Benfey

A Summer of Hummingbirds
A Summer of Hummingbirds

The full title of this book is A Summer of Hummingbirds: Love, Art, and Scandal in the Intersecting Worlds of Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Martin Johnson Heade. With that title, you can imagine this book is more about the authors than hummingbirds. However the hummingbird is described as “a metaphor for the gossamer strands that connect these larger-than-life personalities.”

The story is a re-creation of the summer of 1882, a time as the end of the Civil War, when the lives of Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Martin Johnson Heade intersected in “an intricate map of friendship, family, and romance that marked a milestone in the development of American art and literature.”

Buy on Amazon >

The Hummingbird Book: The Complete Guide to Attracting, Identifying, and Enjoying Hummingbirds
By Donald Stokes and Lillian Stokes

The Hummingbird Book: The Complete Guide to Attracting, Identifying, and Enjoying Hummingbirds
The Hummingbird Book: The Complete Guide to Attracting, Identifying, and Enjoying Hummingbirds

If it’s a book that’s purely dedicated to hummingbirds that you’re after, check out the aptly titled The Hummingbird Book. This books is a guide that will help you attract and care for hummingbirds in your own yard. The books also teaches you how to photograph these speedy birds. Illustrated and with full-color photos and maps of hummingbird ranges, it’s a comprehensive guide that anyone who loves hummingbirds will enjoy.

Buy on Amazon >

Hummingbirds: A Life-size Guide to Every Species
By Michael Fogden, Marianne Taylor, and Sheri L. Williamson

Hummingbirds: A Life-size Guide to Every Species
Hummingbirds: A Life-size Guide to Every Species

Another comprehensive guide, Hummingbirds: A Life-size Guide to Every Species, profiles all 338 known species of hummingbirds. With full-color photos, every profile also includes a flight and range map plus detailed facts about the birds, including their behavior, plumage, and habitats.

Buy on Amazon >

Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas
By Jeanette Larson (Author) and Adrienne Yorinks (Illustrator)

Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas
Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas

If you love hummingbirds and folklore, this is the book for you. It tells many of the Native American stories about hummingbirds, from explanations about why hummingbirds drink nectar to why they love the color read.

Buy on Amazon >

Hummingbird T-Shirts

Chemical pesticides and genetically modified seeds are used heavily to grow traditional commercial cotton, and they are toxic to pollinators like hummingbirds. Whenever possible, opt for organic cotton. Here are some hummingbird t-shirts that are made with organic cotton.

GOTS Certified Organic Cotton T-Shirt with Hummingbirds and Hibiscus Flowers, Made in the USA

GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hummingbird T-Shirts
GOTS certified organic cotton t-shirt with hummingbirds and hibiscus flowers.

Buy on Etsy>

Organic Cotton Hummingbird T-Shirt

Organic Cotton Hummingbird T-Shirt
Organic cotton hummingbird t-shirt.

Buy on Etsy>

Eco-Friendly Hummingbird T-Shirts by Earthmonk

Eco-Friendly Hummingbird T-Shirts by Earthmonk
Eco-friendly hummingbird t-shirts by Earthmonk.

Buy on Etsy >

Resources and Organizations that Protect Hummingbirds

Over 10 percent of hummingbird species are at risk of extinction. If you care about hummingbirds, please help to protect them. Here are some resources and organizations that are working to protect these precious birds:

The Hummingbird Society

American Bird Conservancy

Bird Life

The Audubon Society

Hummingbird Monitoring Network

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