Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas

Image of Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas
Release Date: 
January 31, 2011
Reviewed by: 

Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas lives up to the promise of its title.

The book is a fascinating blend of factual information, imaginative story, and gorgeous art. Hummingbirds are tiny creatures, found only in the Americas. They have been, throughout history, the subject of legends that offer explanations of their brilliant coloring and amazing flying abilities.

A section about their size and physical characteristics is followed by an Ohlone legend of “Why the Hummingbird’s Throat is Red.” The information on diet and food is followed by a Hitchiti tale of “Why the Hummingbird Drinks Nectar.” A Mayan legend of “How the Hummingbird Got Its Colors” follows the factual presentation of the brilliant plumage and color of hummingbirds.

One of the most amazing characteristics of these little birds that is discussed in this book is their unusual manner of flight. They can fly forward, backward, hover, and even to propel themselves upside-down with up to 200 wing beats a second. This information comes right before the West Indies legend, “How the Hummingbird Won the Race.”

Sections on habitat, migration, courtship and reproduction, vocalization, and predators follow this same pattern.

The book concludes with information on titles for further reading, tale sources, additional resources, websites, and a list of hummingbird sanctuaries. This is a well-written and well-designed book.