This essay explores the avian nature of Huitzilopochtli (“Hummingbird on the Left”), the tutelary god of the Mexica, by centering the deity’s association with the hummingbird. Arguing that there is a “natural history of Huitzilopochtli” deployed in book 11 of the Florentine Codex, devoted to “earthly things,” this analysis re-entangles hummingbird ethology with Huitzilopochtli’s cult, a bond that was severed in the early days of colonization. A close reading of the Nahuatl, Spanish, and visual texts in this book reveals that seasonal cycles and hummingbird behavior—energy budgeting, flower nectar diet, swift flight, and long-haul migration—can be interpreted as inspiring the three main feasts of Huitzilopochtli in the Mexica ritual year. Furthermore, reading the natural history entries in book 11 as related to the avian god illuminates how central hummingbirds were as markers of the dry and rainy seasons and their effects in Nahua social and ritual life.

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