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Hummingbirds: Facts, Symbolism, Meanings and More

Cynthia is a digital marketer, writer, and artist. She writes about a variety of topics, especially digital marketing, languages & culture.

Awesome Hummingbirds

I became interested in hummingbirds after moving to my house a few years back. In the early spring, we had around 4 or 5 hummingbirds that would hover around our porch. I knew enough about them to know that whoever had lived in our house before we did, must have had hummingbird feeders right there.

I went to the store and got a cheap hummingbird feeder and some nectar mix – before I knew that it’s incredibly easy to make at home (see below on how to do it).

In any case, I hung the feeder on my porch and within the hour, I had hummingbirds feeding.

They are a sight to see! Their light movements and buzzing wings always make me stop to watch them.

Understand More

Hummingbirds and Their Wings

Hummingbirds are the smallest of our avian friends. They get their name because of the characteristic “hum” their wings make as they fly.

Their wings move in the same pattern as the infinity symbol, or like the number 8, but sideways. Their wings can flap up and down as much as 70 times per second.

For many, this type of movement with the wings is symbolic of the fact that hummingbirds can represent the past and future, as well as the laws of cause and effect. They can also represent infinity itself or even continuity and eternity.

Their wings allow them to hover in the air, move forwards, backwards, up, down and even upside down. No other birds in the world have the ability to fly backwards.

Interestingly, hummingbirds also prefer to fly - they really can’t walk.

Because of their expert flying ability, they can easily elude predators. They also have a fierceness about them. There are reports of them chasing off eagles.

They have the ability to achieve high speed as soon as they take off. They can also stop abruptly – even after traveling at high speed.

A close up of jewelweed.  This is in my yard.  Hummingbirds LOVE this stuff.

A close up of jewelweed. This is in my yard. Hummingbirds LOVE this stuff.

Did You Know?

"Humming" is actually a really good mental exercise.

It's like meditation and can calm the mind and body instantly.

It makes you slow down your breathing, and you have to concentrate on what you're doing.

Hummingbirds and Flowers

Hummingbirds need flowers, just as flowers need hummingbirds to survive. Flowers provide nectar for the birds and, in turn, they pollinate the flowers, enabling them to produce seeds for more flowers. There is symbolism here, too – it’s a relationship of cause and effect.

Amazingly, hummingbirds can detect flowers that have healing qualities or that will help them recover from an ailment. They know how to search for various fragrances, colors and types of flowers in the wild to aid them as they need.

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In Native American cultures, they see the hummingbird as a symbolic doctor or healer because of their ability to use and find flowers to heal themselves.

Their tongues and bills are specially adapted to feeding from flowers. Their tongues form a “W” shape to help them “scoop” out nectar, and their bills are long so they can easily get at the nectar deep in the flowers.


Hummingbirds have iridescent feathers, so it looks like they glimmer. For this reason, some people associate them with fairies, jewels and rain. Thus, they’ve earned various names such as the ruby-throated hummingbird or the purple crowned fairy.

According to Native American legend, hummingbird colors are said to aid in healing or in finding balance.

Interestingly, their “humming” quality is something that humans can do. When we “hum” as opposed to “whistle,” it can help with health and balance, as well, because it allows us to soothe our insides from the massage of the humming action.

For the Pueblo Indians, they used the symbolism of the hummingbird in certain rites. Their colors, expert flying skills and the way they visit flowers allowed the Pueblo to carry these ideas over to human needs.

Could You Get a Hummingbird To Eat Out of Your Hand?

Eating Habits

For such a tiny bird, they are big eaters. They can stop at hundreds, if not more than 1,000 flowers in a single day.

They feed up to 60 times a day to replenish the tremendous amount of energy they use during flight. Their small bodies also have to be able to digest food easily to get at the energy quickly. Sometimes, they’ll eat small insects, but they overwhelmingly prefer nectar.

Before they get ready to migrate, they will eat a lot more than normal. This will allow them to continuously fly until they arrive in Mexico or Central America.


Many hummingbirds travel great distances, against many odds to their southern destinations. Some species of hummingbirds will stay put all winter long, but others will migrate south, up to 2,500 miles.

As mentioned above, they will overeat to be able to fly continuously. Scientists aren’t sure what allows them to gorge themselves and yet still have enough energy in their tiny bodies to make such long voyages.

But, this is also why some regard hummingbirds as ultimate achievers: they can accomplish what is seemingly impossible. This is a lesson in enjoying life as it comes, when it comes because you just never know when you won’t have the opportunity to do so. But, it also speaks volumes in being persistent and not giving up on our dreams.

According to some in Native American cultures, these birds can teach us about soul-travel and developing our psychic abilities. They can also help us to develop grace.

A hummingbird getting nectar out of a red crocosmia flower.

A hummingbird getting nectar out of a red crocosmia flower.

Mating Habits

These bird naturally like to fly solo – literally. They love their independence and the symbolism here is that we need to cherish our freedoms.

However, when it comes time to make an egg, a male hummingbird will do what he can to win the heart of a lady hummingbird. If she likes him, she’ll reciprocate, but if not, she’ll just fly off.

Female hummingbirds will usually lay 2 eggs, that are about the size of a pea. She is the one who solely cares for the eggs.

The fact that she lays 2 eggs has significance: the number “2” represents the inner-self, the part to which we must all come to terms with, so that we can find our own happiness.


These birds carefully construct their homes. They actually plan and design them! No two hummingbird nests are alike, and some are quite elegant.

If hummingbirds take up residence near you, it might symbolize that you need a change – which could lead to more happiness in your life. It could be as simple as rearranging a few things around the house or completely remodeling, so that you can bring more in more positivity.


Hummingbird Totem

If this animal plays a role in your life, it could be your totem.

These birds pass on to you their energy, zest for life, a playful quality, devotion and love of peace.

Because they need so much nectar, this could translate to you needing to watch your sugar levels and make sure you’re eating a balanced diet.

People with this totem also need lots of rest - the energy they expend can make them feel tired and getting some shut eye can help stave off burn-out.. The hummingbird goes into a state of “torpor” when it sleeps so that it conserves energy. It looks like it’s unconscious and sometimes, they’ll even be hanging upside down by morning.

I have jewelweed growing like crazy in my yard.

I have jewelweed growing like crazy in my yard.

Attracting Hummingbirds

Planting various flowers in your yard can help you to attract these birds. Their favorite color is red, so flowers with tubular shapes – so that they can get at the nectar easier – and reddish hues are best.

If you live in the southeast, jewelweed is one of the best plants you can keep around. Luckily, it’s like a weed where I live, so I just let it grow all over the yard – and I have lots of hummingbirds that stop by!

In other areas, you can plant different flowers. In the southwest, the cardinal flower is a good choice for the drier climate. In the northwest, fuscia is a beautiful selection, for its vibrant red color. The midwest has a suitable climate for the cigar plant, also known as a firecracker plant. Red crocosmias do well in the northeast.

I have three hummingbird feeders: a regular one, plus two homemade ones.  I also made the nectar - you don't have to dye it with red food coloring - the red in the feeder lets the hummingbirds know to feed from it.

I have three hummingbird feeders: a regular one, plus two homemade ones. I also made the nectar - you don't have to dye it with red food coloring - the red in the feeder lets the hummingbirds know to feed from it.

Making Nectar

Once you get the hummingbirds to your yard, you’ll also want to have or make a feeder so you can watch them play. Sometimes it looks like they’re fighting, but it’s all in good fun.

All you do is take one part sugar, and four parts of water to make the nectar and mix it really, really well - about 1-2 minutes.

Some people cook this mixture just until it boils and they let it cool.

I find that as long as it's mixed well, I don't need to boil the nectar - the hummingbirds still like it. Try it both ways and see which way works for you.

Personally, I like to use organic sugar because it’s got more vitamins and minerals than the over-refined white sugar. If hummingbirds only eat the nectar I make, I want to be sure it’s the best stuff I can give them, as a reward for coming to my yard.

Indeed, this are truly fascinating birds full of life and wonder.


Animal-Speak. Andrews, Ted. Llewellyn Publications: St. Paul, MN. 2002.

Gardening How-To. "Hummingbird Magnets." LaLiberte, Kathleen. May/June 2012. retrieved 23 Aug 2012. retrieved 23 Aug. 2012.

Spirits of the Earth. Lake-Thom, Bobby. Plume: NY. 1997.

© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun


Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 27, 2019:

Interesting article. Thanks for posting.

Nanci on July 06, 2018:

I had a hummer land on my jump bag during a call (I am a Paramedic). As I was ready to transport, I held my finger to it and it took it. It stayed on my finger as I walked to my rig, then finally flew off. I wanted to know if this is normal?

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on October 01, 2017:

I love them, too. :) Thank you for your kind words and thoughts, Larry!

Larry W Fish from Raleigh on October 01, 2017:

I just loved this article. Whenever I see a hummingbird I am amazed. They are a true joy to watch and one of the most fabulous wonders of nature.

pray74 on May 07, 2015:

I have fallen in love with these birds and have and the around for about a year read you post has me wanting to do more for them. Just today I got to have one on my index finger thing to get it to the feeder we have. This one looked black and was beautiful.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 14, 2015:

Jody - perhaps it's because you can naturally keep a secret, but you are also a light in people's lives. :)

jody on February 11, 2015:

For years people who dnt knw what i collect or if i even collect anything,but when they go somewhere & they see a hummingbird they think of me & buy it,i get another hummingbird,& i took my daughters & best friend camping & it is a very familiar place but this time the hummingbirds swarmed me the whole time it was a 1st for this to happpen so we went back & btwn humming birds & ladybugs hatching & swarming all over like the hummingbirds it was amazing time to be there,& i live in las vegas nv we camped about 2 &1/2 hrs out of town.

I was wondering 2 things why do ppl give me humming birds & why did they swarm around me ,i loved it they would chrip & buzz me the whole time even on trails around our camp

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 13, 2014:

Teresa - I would say you are quite blessed to have a hummingbird taking up residence. I would just "listen" and ask it to "speak to you in a language you can understand" so you can see what it has to say - this is how Medicine Grizzlybear (from whom I cited some of the examples in the article) would say to do it. :)

Teresa Farrar on September 11, 2014:

I have a hummingbird staying in my garage flying above although I do have a birdfeeder in the yard. This coming bird showed up yesterday morning and has been in the garage ever cents and it's hanging upside down right now. What does that mean?

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on August 03, 2013:

Susan - HUGS! Thank you! I appreciate the commentluv and I hope you're well on this fine Saturday afternoon. Here's to the hummingbirds. :)

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on July 06, 2013:

So many people love hummingbirds .... me included. Loved your hub and photos. My best friend collects everything hummingbirds. One year I made her a stained glass one. I'll have to send a link of your hub to her as I'm sure she'd love to read it.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on June 08, 2013:

SidKemp - thank you so much! They are so fun to watch and yes, they make me smile. :)

Sid Kemp from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) on June 05, 2013:

Thanks, hummingbirds inspire me with their endless energy, and their iridescence makes me smile.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 22, 2013:

Vicki - aww, thank you so much! Sometimes it takes hummingbirds awhile to find your feeder. I've had mine out for a month already this year and only one has found it so far. They usually return when they know there's one around, but...we'll see. :)

Livingsta - thank you! I appreciate your feedback. They are so fun to watch.

Lisa - I just could reach through the screen and hug you. You're wonderful, my Butterfly! :) If I haven't, I need to link this to your hub. :)

Chef - I love Taos - I practically grew up in Santa Fe (my mom's family is from there so we visited all the time) and yes, hummingbirds are a sight to see. :) The first time I saw one was after I moved to NC and they started hanging around our azaleas and at that point I knew I wanted them around for always. :)

Natasha - I know, right? Hehe. They are pretty amazing - I can't imagine the feats they pull off. :)

Tillsontitan - thank you! Something tells me you have a spectacular array of hummingbirds in your yard. I can so totally see that. :)

Mary Craig from New York on May 21, 2013:

Great hub CClitgirl! I read everything I can about hummingbirds because you can always pick up a tip or two. We use sugar water and our hummers come back every year!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Natasha from Hawaii on May 21, 2013:

I love when I get the chance to see hummingbirds! They are so remarkable. Sometimes we get some green ones around during their migration and they just look like little green blurs. It is so crazy to me that they migrate so far!

Andrew Spacey from Sheffield, UK on May 21, 2013:

I really enjoyed this. It took me back to a trip we had a few years back to New Mexico. Seeing a hummingbird for the first time was a revelation - a flash of red and metallic blue near flowers that grew outside a book store on Taos Main street. At first I thought it was a sort of huge insect until it hovered near that flower, then it struck me.

A wondrous bird.

Some hours later we watched a roadrunner casually strut along a garden wall - that made our day!

Votes for a fine article.

Liz Rayen from California on May 21, 2013:

My Nani Manu hū! (Beautiful Hummingbird)

I love your hub so much. You capture the truism of these tiny creatures in flight and the joyful messages they bring to us. I am so proud that I have this hub attached to mine. It just compliments it perfectly! Voted up and shared!♥

livingsta from United Kingdom on May 21, 2013:

Wow, beautiful one. These birds are so pretty and I can imagine having your own feeders and watching them can be loads of fun and happiness. Thank you for sharing this with us. Voted up and sharing!

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on May 21, 2013:

Beautiful hub! Very well done. I can't get hummingbirds to come to my house. I had a feeder out for a couple of summers. I have some flowers but perhaps not the right kind. Maybe I'll try to plant some that you suggest. I'd like to see the little guys! Sharing this hub for your birthday! :-)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on January 23, 2013:

Wilbart - haha, thank you. :)

Angelo52 - thank you so much! I love exploring the spiritual side of animals, too.

Dahlia Flower - Thank you for your feedback. I'm thrilled you enjoyed the read!

SGBrown - Thank you so much! You have reminded me that I need to get new bird feeders before too long, haha. Thank you again! I can't wait til they come back, too!

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on January 23, 2013:

This is a wonderful hub on these fascinating little birds. We have a feeder just outside one of our windows and we love to watch them. I also enjoy taking pictures of them, which is not an easy task. I can't wait for them to return this year! Voting this up and more! :)

Dahlia Flower from Canada on January 22, 2013:

I enjoyed reading this so much. Beautiful photos, too. Voting up, useful and interesting.

Angelo52 on January 22, 2013:

Interesting mix of facts and spirituality on the hummingbirds. Good read.

Wilbart26 on January 22, 2013:

What a fascinating little bird. Small but terrible :)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on January 18, 2013:

Audrey - aww, thank you! I love our little feathered friends. :)

Audrey Howitt from California on January 18, 2013:

This is such a great hub! Well researched and beautifully written! on September 13, 2012:

I live in Louisiana have at least 25/30 daily and love each one, my favorite is the Violent Tailed he comes middle to end of Sept each year, have 4 feeders on my covered patio they love it more than I do

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 06, 2012:

Lightshare - thank you for your kind words. I hope you have a wonderful day! :)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 06, 2012:

Hey, Tammy! That would be my dream to have one feeding from my hand! As for your question, it sounds like the "Rufous Hummingbird" which is brown or gray and has a long black nose. :) They have been known to overwinter in the Southeast, too, rather than going really far south into Mexico. They're so cool! Thanks for stopping by.

Tammy from North Carolina on September 06, 2012:

I LOVE hummingbirds! I would love to feed them from my hand. Question, I saw a strange hummingbird like creature a few weeks ago. It was colorless and had a tubular nose. It was the strangest thing. Have you ever encountered anything like that? I love this hub!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 04, 2012:

LW - wow! You are so kind! Thank you so much. :) I found your hummingbird hub inspiring, as I do many of yours. :) Thank you for stopping by. Cheers!

Richard Ricky Hale from West Virginia on September 04, 2012:

CC, great job! I just now got to your message. Sorry for the late reply. You are more then welcome to use that link, if you feel that you still need it. Great work on the article. One of the main things that truly amazed me about the hummingbird was the fact that they use up so much energy. And in doing so, they are never far from instant death. It makes sene considering their speed, but truly remarkable. This is a great article CC, you should feel proud. Voted up and all the way across but funny. Shared on Twitter also. Best wishes CC:)

Lightshare on August 27, 2012:

Very very beautiful cclitgirl. Pictures, section breakers, wonderful facts and all makes this hub awesome -)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on August 25, 2012:

Thank you aviannovice - that's such a great compliment, coming from a friend who studies birds. :D

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on August 25, 2012:

Beautifully done, CC, an enjoyable and accurate read.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on August 25, 2012:

randomcreative - hey there! Yes, I love these little guys - I can watch them for hours! Thank you for stopping by cheers!

teaches - aw, thank you so much! I definitely tried to include stuff that you wouldn't find on any other website. Thank you for your feeback - super big hubhugs to you!

MM - great to see you! They are such cool little birds! I wish they did naturally occur over in Europe - I could see lots of gardeners going crazy with growing hummingbird-friendly flowers. Hehe. Thank you so much for stopping by!! Hubhugs!

Movie Master from United Kingdom on August 25, 2012:

Hi Cindy, what a fabulous, fabulous hub!

I would love to have hummingbirds visit my garden, I know I would spend hours trying to befriend them!

Excellent work - a big vote up from me!

Best wishes Lesley

Dianna Mendez on August 24, 2012:

Wow, this is really well done and you made this so very interesting! I found out some new information on these sweet little creatures. It would be something to see one chasing off an eagle. Voted way up.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 24, 2012:

I've always been fascinated by hummingbirds. Great overview and photos!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on August 24, 2012:

Grandmapearl - all that natural heat would indeed contribute to the nectar not freezing. That and the fact that you change it often. That's so good to know about the woodpeckers, too!

I might still experiment with it some this winter. We live in a little alcove, but there are small streams on three sides of the house - meaning it always stays chilly - even in summer. Yesterday morning it was 54 degrees at 8am, AND it's the middle of summer! We live in the mountains, but still. Hehe. Thanks for coming by again.

Connie Smith from Southern Tier New York State on August 24, 2012:

That's a very good question. That particular hummer feeder hangs up under the eaves right outside the front door in a porch overhang area. Our siding is cedar with a medium dark brown stain. The eaves are a matching brown and tend to absorb any heat from the sun. The feeder has a plastic insert that fits inside a rectangular wooden housing. I think the fact that it receives lots of morning sunshine, and the woodys visit it so often, combined with its location keeps it from freezing.

The woodpeckers seem to like perching on the wooden frame that holds the hummer feeder. My other hummingbird feeders are lighter and swing easier, making it hard for them to feel secure landing on them. Also, I don't completely fill that feeder in the wintertime, but add to it often. Usually it is about one-third to one-half full at the most. By the way, the woodpeckers also love oriole nectar, which can be made the same way as for hummers, except a little less sweet. If you have an oriole fruit and jelly feeder, you can keep that going all winter for the woodpeckers as well. They love to work at halves of apples and oranges. And they like grape jelly, too!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on August 24, 2012:

Shesabutterfly - How so very cool that your dad caught one! That's wonderful - I would LOVE to have these guys feeding out of my hands! I am in awe of these little guys.

Daisy - I bet those vines are a great place for the hummingbirds to nest and hang out. It sounds so beautiful! You're so lucky that both hummingbirds and butterflies really like that area. I can imagine its beauty. :)

Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on August 24, 2012:


Thanks for publishing another beautiful article. I've been seeing hummingbirds and butterflies in the same area of my backyard for the past few weeks. My neighbor has vines growing along the fence we share, and the vines trail over the fence onto our property. Both the hummingbirds and butterflies like this area. They're beautiful to watch.

Cholee Clay from Wisconsin on August 24, 2012:

This is a fantastic hub! I love hummingbirds and found the video very cool. We don't have any nectar but we do have many flowers designed specifically to attract these magnificent birds:)

My dad caught a hummingbird when he was younger. It was feeding on a flower near where my dad was working in the garden and it happened to back up into his hand and sit there.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on August 24, 2012:

alocsin - how cool that these birds are some of your favorites! Thanks so much for coming by to another of my hubs. :)

grandmapearl - aw, great to see you! I knew that hummingbirds didn't live anywhere else except the Americas, but I wasn't sure if they hadn't migrated elsewhere.

In any case, I'm so thrilled that you liked this. I had lots of fun compiling the information for it. :) I'm so psyched that you have all those hummingbirds and then the woodpeckers. Oooh, that's another hub idea! Thanks!! I love woodpeckers. :) How do you keep the nectar from freezing? I would love to know, b/c I want to keep the nectar-love going for the woodpeckers.

Thanks again!! Hubhugs!

Connie Smith from Southern Tier New York State on August 24, 2012:

I am so glad to read all this great information about the symbolism of hummers! I am certain now that the hummingbird is my totem. I keep my hummingbird feeders clean and full from April until September for the hummers, and thereafter for the woodpeckers. They love nectar, too. I make sure they have their sugar fix all winter, and they love it.

My yard if full of jewelweed all summer. It is constantly visited by several of my tiny flying jewels. They bump each other, and jockey for position all over the yard. In fact, I think they are playing while learning to do battle if necessary. They are spunky for sure!

Did you know that they occur nowhere else in the world except North and South America?! We are truly blessed here. I absolutely loved this Hub. Voted Up, and pushed many buttons, shared and pinned. Another super job!

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on August 23, 2012:

Thanks for all these facts one of my favorite birds. I was unaware of all their symbolic aspects. Voting this Up and Interesting.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on August 23, 2012:

Julie DeNeen, thank you so much! Hummingbirds just make life...pretty cool. I wanted to tell you I stopped over at your blog - your latest entry was really great! :)

Sgbrown - I'll take a look at your photography! Thank you so much for stopping by - yeah, I tried over a couple days to get some good pictures of the hummingbirds, but I think they're off engorging themselves for the trip south.'s already getting cold at night here. I hope they stick around for a little while longer...I mean it's STILL summer. Ha! Thanks again!

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on August 23, 2012:

I love to watch the hummingbirds. We have a feeder hung just outside our living room window so we can watch them closely. I love taking pictures of them too, it is a real challenge. I wrote a hub on hummingbird photography, if you would like to check it out. I would like to put a link to your hub in my article, if that is ok with you! This is a great hub! Voted up and awesome! :)

Blurter of Indiscretions from Clinton CT on August 23, 2012:

Wow- this hub is incredible! Nice work here. I love hummingbirds too. I always think they are bugs at first cause they are soooo little :)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on August 23, 2012:

Haha, Bill, you always make me smile. :D Hehehe...just over here writin' my little heart out. Hehe.

I do love hummingbirds. They're so beautiful and lighthearted. I would love to see that website. I'll Google it and if I can't find it, I'll message you, Bill. Thank you so much for coming by. It doesn't surprise me that you have these birds in your yard. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if hummingbirds were in part of your totem. :)

Alecia - hello, friend! Great to see you. I love the colors of hummingbirds, too. They're so cool to watch - and so fast! Thank you so much for coming by and commenting. :) Hubhugs!

Alecia Murphy from Wilmington, North Carolina on August 23, 2012:

Hummingbirds are so beautiful and unique. I didn't know they had trouble walking. I love how colorful they are. Great hub!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 23, 2012:

Oh God, another HOTD coming up! Don't you get tired of winning these things? Spread the love a bit, Sis!

Aren't these magnificent creatures? I just love these birds and yes, we have them in our yard. There is a website you might follows the migration of hummingbirds, butterflies, and many other species....what's the name of it....Migration North or something like that....let me know if you want it....they send you updates and tell you where the creatures are on their migration. It's really cool.

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