May 28, 2021

When he hatched, Murmur was a purple heart stuck with feathers like an unfinished art project. Trapped in a treetop nest of lichen, spider silk, bark and leaves, he waited eagerly for his mother’s return. If she abandoned him and his siblings for too long he would chirp! but never too loudly in case a predator was scouring nearby.

Murmur was always hungry. He dreamed of sugar and sweetness before he could open his eyes. The first time he tasted nature’s nectar, he knew in his tiny heart that he would spend his life searching for more.

He waited, beak wide and stomach growling, for his mother to share today’s gathered feast. She appeared suddenly, zooming from a flower to her nest with lightning speed. Murmur lapped at the air with his little tongue in hopeful expectation. With a needle beak, his mother fed him, but it was not just sweetness that fell unexpectedly down his throat. He choked down a nectar-covered larva. It was sweet but not nearly sweet enough. His little stomach cried for more.

Nectar-covered larvae was, for Murmur, like chocolate-covered broccoli. How could his mother do this to him?

‘Protein will make you grow strong and fast.’
But that’s not what Murmur had asked.

Bitter at his mother’s betrayal,
Murmur chirped. He was ungrateful.

For a week he was starved of sweets.
When he could fly, he indulged in treats.

It was nice for Murmur to finally spread his wings. His mother demonstrated gracefully and he chirped in acknowledgement. At first, his own flapping was more like gawky flailing. Then he hovered a little and then he hovered a little more.

It took him a lesson or two to learn to coordinate his movements. Before he knew it, his tufts of fluff were iridescent feathers and he was flying like a real hummingbird.

His first adventure was filled with brightly coloured flowers: beebalms, bluebells, daylilies, foxgloves and hollyhocks. Fluttering from flower to flower, he gulped down the sugar he had dreamed of.

Murmur fledged. He left his delinquent mother, to build his own nest in a sheltered tree nearby his treasured nectar fountains. Gradually, the bright flowers faded and it got harder and harder to find pollen sweet enough to satisfy Murmur’s hunger. His stomach sung with a sugar craving.

Trembling with nerves, he began his solitary migration north. He filled up on as much nectar as he could and hummed into the horizon. Fourteen days and fourteen nests later, he arrived in a new colourful paradise. He helped himself to the new bright flowers that displayed themselves.

Extraordinarily strong and fast, as promised, Murmur’s courtship was impressive. He swooped and dashed and soared, whistling through his beak. He flew high until he was little more than a pinprick against the vast, cloudless sky. Then he dove. He dove at an astonishing speed of 60 miles per hour before extending his wings proudly, catching the wind and defying gravity.

Whilst enjoying the summer sugars that the north had to offer, Murmur heard the faintest chirp from the treetops. Cautiously but curiously, he hovered close enough to lay eyes upon the source. An elderly hummingbird with faded feathers and weak wings sat furled in her deteriorating nest. The thought occurred to Murmur, that this starving hummingbird might as well be his mother.

Gulping down the remaining nectar in his throat, he scavenged for larvae and fed his mother what he was unhappily fed so long ago.

‘Protein will make you grow strong and fast.’
But it made the poor, dying hummingbird aghast.


Deborah Rose GreenDeborah Rose Green is Contributing Editor for Hey Young Writer! She is also the author of Dragon Pearls (2019) and Crown My Heart (2020). You can follow her on Instagram at @authordeborahrose or visit her website,!



Featured Image by Geronimo Giqueaux on Unsplash