Canada 1867
....Third Book of Reading Lessons, McPhail, 1867


HUMMING-BIRDS are natives of America. They are at once the smallest and the most brilliantly-colored of the whole feathered race. There are many species, all varying in size, from that of a wren to a humble bee, and exhibiting a splendor and beauty of plumage which it is hardly possible to describe. These gems of animated nature are to be seen clad in the loveliest crimson, blue, and green, laid on a ground of gold; but much of their varied elegance is lost when they are not seen in their native woods. Nothing can be more beautiful than to see them glittering like gems among the highly-scented blossoms of the warm countries which they inhabit.

They possess a long and extremely slender bill, with which they extract the nectar, and the small insects which lurk in the recesses of the flowers. They are formed for rapid flight, and are almost ever on the wing. "Wherever a creeping vine opens its fragrant clusters, or wherever a tree-flower blooms, these lovely creatures are to be seen. In the garden, in the woods, over the water, everywhere they are darting about, --of all sizes, from one that might easily be mistaken for a different variety of bird to the tiny hermit, whose body is scarcely so large as that of the bee buzzing about the same sweets. Sometimes they are seen chasing each other with a rapidity of flight and intricacy of path the eye is puzzled to follow. Again, circling round and round, they rise high in mid-air, then dart off to some distant attraction. Perched upon a little limb they smooth their plumes, and seem to delight in their dazzling hues; then darting off again, they skim along, stopping now and then before a flower, and extracting its honey as they hover in the air. Their wings vibrate with such rapidity that the motion is scarcely visible; and it is from the constant murmur or humming sound caused by the rapid vibration that these beautiful little creatures derive their name."

The nest of the humming-bird is very beautifully constructed of the softest down, gathered from the silk- cotton tree, and covered on the outside with bits of loaves and moss. The nest of the smallest species is about as big as the half of a walnut, and in this tiny cup the lovely creature rests.

Minutest of the feather'd kind,
Possessing every charm combined,
Nature, in forming thee, design'd
That thou shouldst be
A proof within how little space
She can comprise such perfect grace,
Rendering thy lovely fairy race
Beauty's epitome.

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