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Tobacco Flower Island

According to a legend among the Arawak Indians of Venezuela

A very long time ago, tobacco was grown only on one island, E-ay-ray Isle, whose name means "the hummingbird kingdom." It was so named because these tiny birds could be seen shimmering throughout the island. Those not living on the island also wanted to possess this plant to which the islanders attached great importance. Tobacco seeds were so sought after that to protect their crops, the islanders had to position ferocious warriors on the shore day and night.

In these long-ago times, birds, like other animals, lived with humans and they helped each other out. At a council meeting, a shaman proposed that a certain wise and clever stork undertake the task of stealing tobacco seeds. The long-legged bird rarely turned away from a challenge, but this time it refused. "How could a bird my size succeed? The guards would see me before I had the chance to move a wing. We need someone very small and very quick."

"The hummingbird!" cried the stork and the shaman in unison. Upon uttering of these words, a hummingbird arrived. The shaman explained the mission. It suggested that the stork help by hiding in the swamp. Thus, it wouldn't have to fly to the shore on the other side. The hummingbird accepted.

As agreed, the stork hid and the hummingbird flew directly to the tobacco fields. It went unnoticed among all the other hummingbirds. While it fed, it stole a few tobacco seeds that it took to the stork. The hummingbird made several trips back and forth. Then, it pushed the last seed into its own fold under its feathers and the two birds returned to the continent.

The two birds were welcomed as heroes. The seeds were promptly planted and took root. Since that time, tobacco has been raised in many locations and the nectar that the hummingbirds feed on is their reward. We now know that hummingbirds help fertilize plants; it all started with that adventure on tobacco island!