Raising Arizona (Hummingbirds)

In the 1987 Coen Brothers classic Raising Arizona, Criminal Herbert I. “Hi” McDunnough (played by Nicolas Cage) delivers one of the cult classic’s most memorable lines when he philosophized,

“Sometimes it’s a hard world for small things.”

That may be true, but I’ve found this spring and summer that: “Sometimes it’s a hard world to photograph small things.” This has been particularly true in regards to my efforts to digitally capture the escapades of several speedy hummingbirds–none seeming much larger than my index finger–that we seem to be raising in our Arizona backyard these past few weeks.

I often combat sleep challenges by investing time and attention to my plants and garden at the crack of dawn. More often than not, I am almost immediately greeted by one of ‘my birds.’ They seem to particularly enjoy hovering over our small water feature whenever I draw near.

I liked to think they enjoy the cool Sonoran Desert morning air as much as I do. It sure sounds and looks that way to me. The little guy pictured here even seems inclined to join me in giving thanks for the splendor of another new day.

The hovering signal they radiate and their frequent songs are as excitedly distinctive as a high pitched train whistle on a misty Flagstaff morning. Click here for a sample of hummingbird sounds that are strikingly similar to what I (and, often, other early risers in our neighborhood) hear.

There is an abundance of great hummingbird information available from trusted sources of online avian information. One of my favorite resources, and the one that provided the above audio sample, is the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Because there is a plethora of easily accessible information, I’m not going to cover the many intriguing facts about these aerodynamic wonders in this writing. Instead, I simply want to communicate the joy that our ‘new neighbors’ have delivered.

They are truly fascinating…


occasionally humorous…

and always a great source of photo-remedy (when you can capture them in focus!)

Hummingbird shows us how to re-visit the past for the purpose of releasing it instead of being caught in a permanently backward flight pattern. It also helps us to see that if we step aside we may see our life differently. Hummingbird teaches us to transcend time, to recognize that what has happened in the past and what might happen in the future is not nearly as important as what we are experiencing now. It teaches us to hover in the moment, to appreciate its sweetness.

Constance Barrett Sohodski

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