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According to NYT > Science (This article and its images were originally posted on NYT > Science February 5, 2019 at 07:51AM.)
If you want to know what makes hummingbirds tick, itâ€™s best to avoid most poetry about them.
Bird-beam of the summer day,
â€” Whither on your sunny way?
Whither? Probably off to have a bloodcurdling fight, thatâ€™s whither.
John Vance Cheney wrote that verse, but letâ€™s not point fingers. He has plenty of poetic company, all seduced by the color, beauty and teeny tininess of the hummingbird but failed to notice the ferocity burning in its rapidly beating heart.
The Aztecs werenâ€™t fooled. Their god of war, Huitzilopochtli, was a hummingbird. The Aztecs loved war, and they loved the beauty of the birds as well. It seems they didnâ€™t find any contradiction in the marriage of beauty and bloodthirsty aggression.
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