like to build their nests near water. The tiny little fellows like
to skim over the surface of rivers and ponds and throw spray on
themselves with the tips of their wings. They also like to flutter
around in the first light drops of a rain. Yet hummingbirds do not
drink the water in which they bathe. They sip nothing but the dew
which sparkles on flowers and leaves. Why they are so careful about
the water they drink is told in a legend.
Once a hummingbird and a great blue heron owned a lake together.
It was a long lake which ran through the low country for many miles.
Around the edges of this lake were moss-covered trees and low bushes
which hung over the water. In the shade made by the trees and bushes
the hummingbird liked to hover and drink the cool water.
Like many people the hummingbird and the heron had the bad habit
of gambling. They liked to bet, and they bet about many things.
One day the hummingbird bet the heron that he could fly from one
end of their lake to the other faster than the heron. The one who
lost the bet was to give up drinking in that lake and also in all
others. Both birds agreed. They went to one end of the lake and
started off together.
hummingbird thought he would surely win the race, for he could fly
much faster than the big heron, but he didn't know that he couldn't
fly across the lake in one day. They flew on and on. The heron was
left far behind, but still the hummingbird was a long way from the
other end of the lake. Finally it began to get dark, and the hummingbird
could not fly in the darkness. At last he had to fly to one side
of the lake and spend the night in a tree, but the heron could fly
at night, and he kept coming after the sun went down. The hummingbird
didn't know it.
Early the next day the hummingbird jumped out of his tree and
started on his way again. He expected to reach the end of the lake
long before the heron, but when he got there he found the heron
sitting in a cypress tree and laughing at him. By flying all night
the heron had won the race. The hummingbird kept his word and never
drank from that lake or any other lake or river again. That is why
he sips nothing but dew today.