10 of 30: Hummingbird

Today is the Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge.  For those of you just stopping by, I'm writing a poem each day this month in celebration of National Poetry Month.  

I have been thinking about nonfiction poetry and collecting titles to consider as mentor texts for my first graders.  Last night I came upon Jane Yolen's, Bug Off!.  On each page Yolen shares a poem about an insect with a few research facts carefully collected underneath.  So tonight I decided to try my hand at a poem with just a bit of fact peppered within. I have been collecting interesting hummingbird facts so I decided to give a poem a try.  It needs a lot of polish, but when you are writing a poem each day there is no time for that.  

Photo from ODNR
Dear hummingbird,
You have already arrived
From your summer home
In Mexico.

I heard you buzzing
As I sat on the patio
Admiring the flowering trees.
Watching the birds build their nests.

I heard you
Well before I saw you,
With your wings beating
Faster than my eyes can see.

I spotted you
Darting around the yard.
You paused to study me.
Then flew backwards and away.

You were by yourself,
Moving here and there
Looking for food.
But you are early.

The yellow iris
Has not yet bloomed.
The hosta is just peeking
From the ground.

The zinnia hasn't been planted.
The dianthus has yet to sprout.
The snapdragon, though getting tall,
Hasn't started to bud.

But here you are.
Skittering about the yard,
Building your new home,
Searching for food.

© Cathy L. Mere, 2012

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds
  • Only species of hummingbird is the only one to breed in eastern North America.
  • Lay 1-3 eggs.
  • Females care of young.
  • Female may have several broods in a year.
  • Migrate to Mexico and Central America (may double their weight to make journey across Gulf of Mexico)
  • Weigh less than one ounce.
  • Rapid wing movement (12-80 times per seconds, typically 55 times per second).
  • Only birds that can fly backwards.  
  • Can fly up to 60 miles per hour.
  • Normal flight speed is 25 miles per hour. 
  • Have extremely small legs.
  • Male has red throat (appearance dependent upon light).
  • Feed on flowers, nectar, sap, insects and spiders.
  • May eat twice its weight each day.  
  • Pollinate plants.
  • Nest is the size of an English walnut shell. 
  • Lifespan 5-9 years  

Sites to Learn More
National Geographic:  Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Operation Ruby-Throat:  Nests and Eggs
Ohio Department of Natural Resources:  Video About Attracting Hummingbirds (and nesting)
Ohio Department of Natural Resources:  Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Bird-Watcher's Digest:  Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
University of Maine:  Understanding Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds and Enhancing Their Habitat in Maine
Wonderopolis:  Do Hummingbirds Really Hum?


  1. I love the combination of poetry and facts. Do you know the book Song of the Water Boatman by Joyce Sidman? She does this too. You have incorporated so many facts into your poem too. Aren't hummingbirds fascinating? I haven't spotted any yet, but I'm sure they are around. Must get that feeder out.

    1. Song of the Water Boatman is a great example, Elsie. I had forgotten about that. I just added it to my Listmania list I've created about nonfiction poems http://www.amazon.com/lm/R1Y9P2TP4EDVHE/ref=cm_lm_pthnk_view?ie=UTF8&lm_bb=.

  2. What a cool idea! I loved how you mixed those facts into a poetic structure. Need to find a good topic and do something like this too..

    I'm writing a poem a day this month also (but I didn't like today's... try some of my other ones if you want to read any - Chuckles)

    1. A poem a day after a slice a day. We are going to be in the writing habit, Maria. You should give this type of poetry a try. I really enjoyed writing it.

  3. You are pretty talented for someone who is writing a poem a day - wow! This is such a great topic -- I am thinking very hard about flowers to plant this summer that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
    Watch out Joyce Sidman! I think you have a bright future writing nonfiction poetry/text!

    1. I have been thinking about this too. Some of the sites above talk plants that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. I was surprised to find hosta on the list.

  4. NEAT! I really like how you wrote a poem, then gathered facts. I think my 4th and 5th graders might like to try this, too! Thank you for a great piece and writing idea.

  5. I just taught a non-fiction poetry lesson last week, Cathy. I found quite a few wonderful poetry anthologies in the library. One is Insectlopedia, just marvelous, as is your poem. All of the poems I saw clearly had done research before writing, as you did. Are your hummingbirds really back already? Wow! I love 'skittering around the yard'. They are so special! Thanks!

    1. I have seen the hummingbird already. It does seem earlier than usual. I suppose the warm weather has tricked them too. I was wondering what he would eat since most of our flowers are not planted yet. The flowering trees had blossomed when I saw him so maybe he was able to eat from that. I think I will need to get my hummingbird feeder out.

  6. Loved BUG OFF (and all the other NF/Poetry mash-ups that are appearing). You've got me thinking that maybe I should give this a try! Thanks for the idea, Poetry Pal!!

    1. I hope you will give this a try. I would love to read one of your poems using nonfiction. Thanks for keeping me writing. I am enjoying this poetry challenge.

  7. Cathy,
    I think it's amazing you're wondering about Hummingbirds-today's wonderopolis is about hummingbirds!

  8. Lovely poem, Cathy. It's obvious that - like me, you've spent some time watching them. It is incredible how they fly backwards, how they check you out, so timid and cautious around people. I truly love these birds. My father kept a hummingbird feeder on the dining room window and if one arrived while we ate, we had to sit very still while the hummingbird drank so as not to disturb his/her meal.

    1. Beautiful memory. There is something fascinating about this bird. Sometimes I wonder if I am watching it or if it is watching me.

  9. Cathy, I am so impressed by your nonfiction poetry! You have written delightfully about one of my favorite birds and you have embedded so many facts about hummingbirds in the poem. If you don't mind, I will use this poem as a mentor text for my first graders. I think they will love it. I suggest you do more nonfiction poetry.

    I am wondering how you are going to teach your first graders to use facts to write their own nf poetry.

    1. You are more than welcome to use this poem. I have written one about the heron and expect to try a few more. They're a lot of fun to write. I plan to share a few with my students and possibly complete a shared writing example with the class. We have just finished talking about nonfiction so I think they would enjoy a little quick research and writing together. I would imagine a few of my students will want to try to write their own during writer's workshop. I'll keep you posted. Let me know what you decide with your first graders.

  10. Great idea to combine the poem and facts. Love that. Couldn't help but wonder what will happen to the little guy when the food is not yet ready. I am so impressed that you are writing a poem a day. WAY TO GO!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Slice of Life: Savor Summer

Poetry Friday is Here: Candy Hearts