With destructive crews of bull dozers, cranes, men in hard hats bringing loud, ground breaking noise in their wake: one tiny bird stood between progress and sustainability. The day the men came it had been raining for weeks, and for years the area hadn’t seen reprieve from unyielding droughts that wiped most of the grassy lands brown and arid. Hummingbirds are resilient, they bask in the rain as a means to cool their core temperatures, and as long as they have a steady food supply to fuel their ever burning metabolism to keep up with their superhuman hearts that propel wings enabling fierce battles over both food and mates to be, they aren’t phased by much at all.
Female hummingbirds take on the sole responsibility of population growth, they are one of the only birds that live a life of solitude. Our friend, as she hunkered down on her dear egg, the mere size of a fingernail, had a choice to make on this day: stay and continue to warm her unborn baby bird or fly away. As the air filled with the stench of burnt oil, and the sound waves drowned out the heartbeat of the natural world, progress was upon her.
She did what every mother would do: she stayed. She watched. She listened to the guttural sounds of branches bending to crane, of chain saw tearing away at centuries old trunks, she endured each pounding second of earth shaking construction, and she did not leave her egg. Her heart raced uncontrollably at times, her eyes darted about in fear and she felt she just couldn’t endure another second of the constant and eminent threat to both her and her baby’s life. She had depended on this tree for so many years, it was safe, it was high above the ground and far from the city, she was able to rear dozens of babies here without fear like this, but now times were changing. She had made a commitment to stay, she knew it was her duty to raise this egg to baby and that baby to full blown flying bird, but what if in the process she lost her life? They were getting closer and closer with each passing minute. The ground shook like the earthquakes that destroyed the city so many years ago as the homes of her friends fell to the floor, they scattered screaming as they flew away. Life was falling apart.
Every night the men left, every night she was able to breathe again. And every night she hoped that they wouldn’t come back. She hoped that something might change, that maybe just maybe it was time for her egg to hatch. She knew it was far too soon for that and she was stuck in this predicament for the long haul, but what would it look like when they came for her tree? She shuddered in her nest as she had visions of her egg falling to the ground while she powerlessly hovered above. Alone, with no one to turn to but herself, she hunkered down on her egg and she cried.
The morning came, the sun rose and the rains dissipated. She could hear her friends in the distance singing their morning songs, they were jockeying for mates as usual, fighting for food and all enjoying the look of the lands elsewhere. She wanted so badly to be there with them, she wanted to be a part of life, of the parts of life where things were easy. She wanted to be where imminent threat wasn’t reality and constantly threatening her loudly and invasively, and yet, for every negative thought she had, she thought of her unborn baby inside her egg and she committed even further to defending that life. She would do whatever she could to fight. She stared destruction in the face every day and she did not move. She found courage where no other would, she sacrificed, she committed, and never left.
Then, they came: she was surrounded. She saw the mouth of the great yellow crane pulling away at branches on the other side of the tree and she screamed in horror. At the same time, she came face to face with a man in a ginormous yellow hat and caged in eyes. He screamed out “Stop!!” He climbed down from the tree and called out on his Walkee Talkee and all the destruction slowly halted as well. Not knowing what to do the little bird almost fainted on her nest, but she hung in there. She watched in a daze as the bull dozers backed away, the men grew quieter, the air cleared of the gaseous cloud that choked, and silence fell over her trauma stricken tree.
You see, just one hummingbird and just one egg stopped a $70 Million Dollar Project on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge in San Francisco yesterday. The Anna’s hummingbird is a protected species whose eggs cannot be moved or removed. Our little friend, because of her commitment to duty and her willingness to sacrifice, because she was unwilling to yield when everything evil and frightening threatened her to her core, she was successful. One tiny little Hummingbird put the brakes on $70 Million Dollars of PROGRESS of Destruction of the demolition of natural and living meaningful life. Even if only for the duration it will take to raise the egg to baby. She saved her baby’s life.
Everyone fighting out there, everyone staring at destruction, everyone experiencing constant intimidation, everyone forced into lives defending that which is meaningful, everyone who has taken up the fight, everyone who is at #StandingRock and #SacredStone: You Will Endure. You have more strength within you than you even know. Embrace it. Embrace who you are, hold tight, don’t let go. I know you can.
I took some pictures of Anna’s Hummingbirds: They’re small but man can they fight!
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