The Hummingbird: Folklore, Symbolism, and Spirit Guide

The Hummingbird is small but amazing.
The Hummingbird is small but amazing. | Source

The Hummingbird: A Beautiful, Intriguing Creature

As a little girl, I was often delighted and intrigued by the appearance of a hummingbird. My grandmother kept hummingbird feeders in the backyard, and every once in awhile we would get to see these tiny, beautiful creatures hovering nearby sipping nectar. Are you just as fascinated with the hummingbird as I am?

Hummingbirds are not only beautiful, they are also some of the smallest and fastest-flying birds on the planet. A few types of hummingbirds are so small they are comparable in weight to a penny! These creatures are loved all over the world, though they are native only to the American continents. They have much to teach us.

In this article we will look at:

  • hummingbird folklore
  • hummingbird symbolism
  • the hummingbird spirit guide and its lessons for you

The Hummingbird was sacred to many indigenous American tribes.
The Hummingbird was sacred to many indigenous American tribes. | Source

The Hummingbird In Folklore and Mythology

The ancient indigenous people of both North and South America have various myths and stories centered around the speedy hummingbird.

The Aztecs (ancient people of Mesoamerica) honored a god of war known as Huitzilopochtli whose name means "Hummingbird of the South". The Aztecs felt hummingbirds were not only fierce but sacred animals. Upon death, Aztec warriors were believed to morph into hummingbirds and fly to join the god Huitzilopochtli.

To the Mayan people, hummingbirds were magical, sacred creatures. One particular legend tells of the hummingbird's creation - sculpted from the left-over feathers used in the creation of other birds. The gods were so in love with the hummingbirds, they put on a great celebration where all the other animals were invited to honor the hummingbird in his bright beauty and wit.

Just like other birds, hummingbirds were thought to be messengers between humans and the gods. To the Pueblo Natives, hummingbirds bore their messages of praise and requests to Mother Earth for the shamans.

Even the Cherokee have a legend of the swift, tiny bird. The legend says that the hummingbird used his speed and swiftness to grab a piece of the world's first tobacco plant in order to help heal an old woman.

And on and on these legends go. Dozens of Native tribes all over the United States, Canada and South America have their own endearing stories of the hummingbird. We can see just how special these little birds have been throughout time.

Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec Hummingbird God
Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec Hummingbird God | Source

Hummingbird Symbolism

With all of the amazing things the hummingbird can do, it's no wonder they have so much to teach us. The Hummingbird symbolizes many aspects of life.


The hummingbird represents living a joyful life. Think of how the hummingbird flits from one place to another, happy and bouncy. Full of life. We would do well to learn how to love life like the hummingbird.

Stepping Back

The hummingbird has the ability to fly backwards, an ability that only a few birds of the world possess. In this way, the hummingbird symbolizes taking a step back to further examine a situation. Sometimes we have to take a step back in order to move forward.

Swiftness / Speed

The hummingbird represents speed and agility for obvious reasons. They remind us that sometimes in life it is advantageous to be able to act quickly in emergent situations.


The hummingbird is very light-weight, some weighing no more than a penny. This is symbolic of moving through life with a lightness. Leaving gentle footprints behind us on this earth means to care for the earth, care for our families and treat everyone and everything with gratitude and respect. Most people do not move through life with a lightness like the hummingbird.


Hummingbirds have a metabolism so high that they have to consume more than their own weight in nectar every day or else they will die overnight. In this way, the hummingbird represents endurance and survival. They are always hours away from death, yet they survive and carry that inevitable brightness everywhere they go.

The great thing about symbolism is that it is different for each person. You might think the hummingbird represents something not listed here, and you're right! Whatever the hummingbird symbolizes to you is what is important. Take nature's messages to heart in whatever way they may appear. Even in the tiniest of birds like the hummingbird.

The Hummingbird Spirit Guide comes to those in need of joy and lightness in life.
The Hummingbird Spirit Guide comes to those in need of joy and lightness in life. | Source

The Hummingbird Spirit Guide

If you believe in spirit guides, you might also believe that animals can come to us as spirit guides. Often animal spirit guides are temporary messengers that disappear once we have received their sacred messages from Spirit.

The Hummingbird Spirit Guide comes to those who need to learn a specific lesson in life. Again, the message the hummingbird spirit guide brings to you might be completely different from the message it brings to the next person; however, these messages may be similar. The Hummingbird Spirit Guide might bring you lessons of joy, swiftness, adaptability, and lightness. They might also come into your life with a message from a deceased loved one. It is also quite possible that these birds as spirit guides might represent a certain ancient god and a message or lesson that can be learned from that god.

If the Hummingbird Spirit Guide has come to you recently, you might see them flitting about your yard. You might see their image on the Television screen or in books or magazines. You might see them all over the internet and for no logical reason. This is because they are trying to get your attention! Do your research on the hummingbird itself and ask the hummingbird spirit guide to reveal its message to you. Take to heart the message or lesson. The Hummingbird Spirit Guide is a very special messenger and should be honored.

© 2016 Author Nicole Canfield

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Comments 12 comments

Sweetlinney 4 months ago

I adore humming birds and I've come to believe its my spirit guide. I grew up in Sweden and had never seen a humming bird before until I moved to Ca. I started noticing them when I moved in with my bf. I would sit on my patio with my little dog and watch them come and go, usually we'd only see one ore two at a time. 3 years ago 3 major things happened, life changing things, and I received info on all of them very close together. Two weeks to be exact. 1: my dog was diagnosed with cancer and had maybe 6 weeks left to live. He was my everything, the child I'd never had. 2: I have an auto-immune disease that's not deadly but mine went haywire and did a lot of damage to my body. I've turned down experimental treatment for it and letting nature run its course. Which means I have to deal with possibly dying young. 3: finding out that my bf of six years had a life on the side. I had a nervous breakdown and took time off from work to deal with everything. Most of them spent on the patio with my dog watching the humming birds. He was a little trooper though and hung in there a little longer then expected. He passed away peacefully in my arms, just as I had wished for, with my bf by my side. After burying him we went straight home. I was exhausted but couldn't stop crying. When we walked onto our patio 6-7 hummingbirds flew in at the same time! I've never seen that many before. They all went to diff feeders/plants except for one. He flew right in front of me, looked me in my eyes, and I blurted hi mowgli(my dogs name). He then flew to one of the plants to feed. I took it as a sign that he was letting me know he was ok, that I was gonna be ok. After that humming birds seems to be around me whenever I'm outside. My sisters also told me something interesting that I don't even remember myself. But I guess I painted a picture of hummingbirds that my mom hung up in the hall way. My mom has confirmed it as well but I just can't figure out where I could have seen one. Or why I made a painting of them. They must mean something though that's for sure:)

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kittythedreamer 7 months ago from the Ether Author

KoffeeKlatch Gals - Yes thank you!

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KoffeeKlatch Gals 7 months ago from Sunny Florida

I have always loved the hummingbird. I had no idea there was so much symbolism attributed to this tiny little bird. How wonderful.

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kittythedreamer 7 months ago from the Ether Author

Sparrowlet - Thank you so much! I love your name.

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Sparrowlet 7 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

I've always loved hummingbird and had no idea they were such noble creatures in folklore and mythology! This hub is entertaining and a joy to read. Well done.

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kittythedreamer 7 months ago from the Ether Author

Lipnancy - Awwww that's so cool!

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Lipnancy 7 months ago from Hamburg, New York

Humming birds are the best. My parents always had a humming bird feeder. I once had the opportunity to see a nest of baby hummers. They were absolutely fascinating to watch and were the size of bumble bees.

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kittythedreamer 7 months ago from the Ether Author

purl3agony - Agreed! They are adorable but they are also fierce. :)

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purl3agony 7 months ago from USA

Fascinating hub! We have a hummingbird feeder attached to our front window. It's amazing to see these little birds move and feed. I can see why they would become the subjects of myths and legends. I love that these little hummingbirds have been perceived as being fierce and strong in many cultures and through many ages.

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kittythedreamer 7 months ago from the Ether Author

heidi - They say we have them in FL too but I've yet to see them here. We had them where I grew up in Maryland though. I always loved them.

MizzBejabbers - It seems to be a sacred, special thing when they choose your feeder right? I've tried before and never saw a single one. And yet other people see them all the time. Perhaps they choose you and not the other way around. :) Thanks for reading and commenting!

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heidithorne 7 months ago from Chicago Area

Sadly, I haven't personally seen these lovely beings in our area. And there's one particular species of them that is drawn to the Chicago area. But, luckily, your hub has brought them to us. :) Another beautiful post, as usual. Happy Spring!

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MizBejabbers 7 months ago

Beautiful hub about beautiful tiny birds, and it is very interesting about the totem. I would have never dreamed that this tiny bird is a messenger, but it makes sense. One of the nature magazines often features photos of a hummingbird sitting in a person's hand, although I've never gotten one so tame. When we moved into our house over 20 years ago, we hung hummingbird feeders above our deck. Since our back yard borders woods, I thought we would be inundated with them. But alas, we had only about three regulars. I was so envious of my other relatives who had many of them come to their feeders.

Anyway, the feeder was on a line stretched across our deck to try to keep the squirrels away. On of my little regulars was a real squaker. You could hear it coming as soon as it entered my half acre, and I would sit and watch and enjoy its "music?". The squirrels got into the feeder anyway and would chug-a-lug the nectar. The rope line finally broke and my husband refused to put it back up because we were just feeding the squirrels anyway.

The next year I was sitting on the deck in early spring when I heard the squaker approaching. Poor little thing hovered for a little while and left. It came back for about two more days, and I haven't seen it since. I felt so bad about its losing its regular station at our house and I missed the little fellow. That was about 10 years ago, and we still haven't put up another feeder because of the squirrels. I do try to keep pineapple sage growing in pots in my front atrium because the beautiful blooms attract hummingbirds and butterflies as well as several different types of bees.

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    Author Nicole Canfield (kittythedreamer)1,885 Followers
    440 Articles

    Kitty has been communicating with her spirit guides for over a decade. She uses the lessons she's learned through them to write about them.

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