The Thirsty Hummingbird – A Fortuitous Encounter

Black chinned hummingbird

The Black-Chinned Hummingbird (Picture by Andrew C, from Wikimedia Commons)

It had been a good few days since I watered plants in my backyard. Ever since my decade-old automatic irrigation system gave up, I have taken to watering the landscaping plants myself. A good way to conserve water, I think; something that may become increasingly important as the drought in nearby California worsens. Leaves on my lemon tree were beginning to reflect a similar dearth of life-giving water.

So there I was, in my backyard, with a hose spouting water from an open end. Yes, the multifunction nozzle functioned no more, and was duly separated from the hose. It’s back to the good old days of a finger serving the water jet shaping function. My thumb works best for me.

After watering the apple tree, and the ground around it, I moved the longish horizontal stream of water to a vine clinging resolutely onto the sidewall. I could get most of the water flowing in a jet stream, but some did spray out in a spreading shower of sorts. I kept the stream aimed at the base of the vine and waited the minute or so necessary.

It was then that I saw her. A small, soundless, dainty little gray thing, a blur of wings above and around her, hovering just outside the shower around the stream of water, moving out of the thicket of apple tree leaves and blooms. She seemed intent upon the spray of water; I stayed still and held the stream steady. To my growing surprise, she seemed to want to venture into the shower…I held my breath and remained motionless. What was it that compelled her to move into a strong shower of water, something that must surely be dangerous to her?

She moved a couple of inches…into the edge of the spray. And then some more, until she was within the spray itself! It was all I could do to stay as still as humanly possible and keep the stream of water steady. The jet could’ve harmed the tiny little thing that likely weighed less than an ounce. She then turned, to face the jet…and in the most delicate movement, moved an inch to insert her long beak into the water jet. Just as quickly as she moved forward into the jet, she turned away and flew back into the apple tree. I followed her until she moved to dip into an apple blossom…and relaxed, laughed, rejoiced.

The thirsty, brave little hummingbird took advantage of my water hose for a drink of cool water. She saw me, surely, but how did she know that the fast moving stream of water in the air would stay in place? Had she observed me before? Regardless, I was honored to be able to quench her thirst. The old heart smiled, and I cherished this most endearing little encounter.

I’ll always look forward to my backyard watering chore now…



About Rian Nejar

Rian Nejar is an Indian-American author. He trained and worked as an engineer in India, lived briefly in the Middle East, and arrived in America in the early 90's. After a Master’s degree in electrical engineering in America, he worked as an academic instructor, engineer, entrepreneur, and technical writer over the two decades since. Humbling and Humility ( is his first mainstream nonfiction. He lives and writes in the Southwest United States.
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