Wally and Auntie Kay Smith appreciated hummingbirds. Wally pointed out a hummingbird nest in one of the apple trees with two tiny eggs in it. I was a child then and it was such a thrill to see them! We put up feeders where we could observe hummingbirds from the comfort of our house. Wally even put up a white backstop so he could photograph them at the feeder. Who doesn’t like hummingbirds? I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t like the remarkable little creatures.These birds however, are in jeopardy, even though they are protected under the Migratory Bird Act.
Recently, CBC radio interviewed a man named Pepper Trail, a criminal forensic ornithologist with the US Government, who spoke of the current problems besetting our beloved humming birds. But that is part of the problem, they are too beloved! Apparently the Mayan culture once looked at the hummingbird as a love charm and that frame of mind has been resurrected with the Mexican people as well as the Spanish speaking communities throughout the United States and Canada.
People in countries south of the U.S., are paid to harvest hummingbirds by the hundreds. Border Security has intercepted packages destined for the United States of America with at least 300 dead hummingbirds in each, all neatly and individually confined, complete with a verse or poem for each hopeful lover who buys the dead hummingbird.
Yes, these dead birds are being marketed as good luck charms, just as the lucky rabbit foot has been marketed here. The companies involved in this practice are very well organized according to Mr. Trail. The question is, how do you stop a cultural practice such as this love charm operation?
There are only so many hummingbirds to go around before they become extinct along with the many different species of wild flowers that are pollinated solely by hummingbirds. Then what are the people going to do for a love charm? They will use a fake one, but by then the irreparable damage will be done.
A solution then is to flood the current market with fake, cheaper hummingbirds. When you look around at what is available for fake birds, there are many that look incredibly realistic! There are other solutions too that I don’t know of. Perhaps make another bird a popular love charm such as the Starling, and when they become extinct, there will be no tragedy abounding!
How much time is there before our hummingbirds are all gone ? Two years, five years, certainly no more than ten years. When you really think about, it is inconceivable that our hummingbirds could all die as love charms by an uneducated humanity!
My hope is that the powers that be, financial powers in particular, will take notice of a potential love charm market available in fake hummingbirds for the Spanish speaking communities throughout North America; thereby preserving the lives of hundreds of real, live hummingbirds.
Just a note of clarification. There are readers who will take this article all wrong by thinking I’m blaming this problem on the people of North and South America who speak Spanish. The Spanish speaking communities just happen to be the ones I know about; there may be others who are involved in this ignorant decimation of our hummingbird populations. No matter who is partaking in this, it must stop as soon as possible, to avert the inconceivable.