Sword-billed Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera): Ernst Haeckel, in Kunstformen der Natur, 1904 (image by Rasbak, 11 March 2006)
I can imagine, in some otherworld
Primeval-dumb, far back
In that most awful stillness, that only gasped and hummed,
Humming-birds raced down the avenues.
Before anything had a soul,
While life was a heave of matter, half inanimate,
This little bit chipped off in brilliance
And went whizzing through the slow, vast, succulent stems.
I believe there were no flowers then,
In the world where the humming-bird flashed ahead of creation.
I believe he pierced the slow vegetable veins with his long beak.
Probably he was big
As mosses, and little lizards, they say, were once big.
Probably he was a jabbing, terrifying monster.
We look at him through the wrong end of the telescope of Time,
Luckily for us.
Sword-billed Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera), Baeza, Ecuador: photo by Sid Dunkle, 24 September 2006 (Slater Museum of Natural History, University of Puget Sound))
Skeleton of Sword-billed Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera): photo scan by Slater Museum of Natural History, University of Puget Sound