Customs, Food Culture

The Sacred Andean Hummingbird Keeps Fascinating Secrets

The Sacred Andean Hummingbird (Photo: Walter Coraza)

The hummingbird flits through Cuzco’s gardens and is an important bird in its culture. Called in Spanish picaflor or colibrí, and qinti in Quechua, the hummingbird is beautiful and iridescent as it goes from flower to flower. In Peru there are more than 150 species, each with its own characteristics.

Traditionally, the picaflor is considered a deity. For many people it still represents the resurrection. People say it is the only bird that is reborn.

Its surprising speed, its colorful plumage, and the sharp turns it can make in the air open emotions in people that connect us with nature.

People relate that the blood of the hummingbird is a cure for several illnesses. They consider this a secret.

One Cuzco mother told me that she had an experience with the hummingbird. She had epilepsy. This is not a rare illness. Many people suffer it. “I drank the blood of the hummingbird and now I am well.”

A Huaca Protected By Hummingbirds (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)
A Huaca Protected By Hummingbirds (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

Some people insist that only a child should hunt and capture the hummingbird in order to give it to the needy person. They open a small hole in its neck and with a tea spoon receive its blood. Then they rapidly raise the small amount of blood to their lips and drink the bird’s warm blood.

According to the people of the Andes, hummingbird’s blood can cure sicknesses such as epilepsy, heart problems, and susto (shock or sharp surprise). The act of drinking the blood of this beautiful bird is still practiced though little by little it is disappearing into the past.

People see the hummingbirds as having an intense relationship with nature since they drink the nectar of the beautiful flowers that grow in Cuzco, especially in this month when spring arrives. We can appreciate the beauty of this bird. Various species are visible in our city’s green spaces and its gardens although you can see them more easily if you leave the city.

Hummingbirds are very fascinating to me. I love them and delight in climbing up our mountains early in the morning to see them up close. In our hills there are many huacas, sacred site, which they say are watched over by hummingbirds. They are the faithful guardians of holy places from our ancestors.

A Hummingbird Sipping Nectar (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)
A Hummingbird Sipping Nectar (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

One morning I turned my head and a beautiful picaflor, hummingbird, stood in teh air before me. It seemed our eyes and hearts connected for some seven seconds before it flew off. During that time It seemed it transmitted to me a whole series of new sensations and it took me to another place. This was surprising and unique for me.

Hummingbirds are sacred for Andeans. Its beauty must hold some magical secret, people say. If nothing else, its lucid colors connect us with nature and its power.

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1 Comment

  1. I’m trying to understand, same thing happen to me and two of my brothers in Christ while standing outside and talking. A beauitful hummingbird approached us and stood for at eye level and then flew off during the Men ACTS Retreat in April 2013.

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