As if in a dream, the Sunbird suddenly flew from the branch and fluttered around in front of me in a beautiful dance, hovering like a hummingbird, flapping its wings quickly and lightly. The Afrikaans word ‘vrolik’ came to mind, which translates to a lively, bubbly, carefree, light-hearted, high-spirited cheerfulness and merriment.
Sunbirds are Africa’s equivalent of the Hummingbird. There is a close resemblance in size, dazzling colours, dynamic activity and both feed primarily on nectar. They are however not related. Sunbirds are songbirds, while Hummingbirds are akin to swifts. Sunbirds are Passeriformes from the Old World. The two species are separated by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and millions of years! Their similarities are a product of convergent evolution. Sunbirds and Hummingbirds are ecological equivalents and occupy similar niches in different ecosystems.
The Hummingbird as a spirit animal symbolizes an optimistic outlook, enjoyment of life, lightness of being, tireless joy and playfulness, as well as adaptability and resilience. It seems the Sunbird carries the same meaning, reminding us to play, find joy in what we do, while being present to ourselves and in our lives. According to Ted Andrews the Hummingbird teaches one “to find the miracle of joyful living from your own life circumstances” (p. 159). My witnessing the dance of the Sunbird right before me felt like a joyous miracle.
Bird medicine is about living in the moment, moving with breath and flying into the flow of life. “Their consciousness is in their own life process, from moment to moment”. (p. 74). Birds teach that complete and regular elimination is essential to maintain the necessary lightness for flight. This reminds me of the basic premise of mindfulness meditation, not to let thoughts and feelings get stuck in you, but letting them go!
What do you need to get rid off to lighten your journey in life?
- Southern Double-collared Sunbird (Cinnyris chalybeus) www.robertodemicheli.com
- Strelitzia flower – Birds of Paradise
- Animal Speak, Ted Andrews, 1993.
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