Those Hummingbirds!


As I sit here in our bedroom, with the laptop on–the usual place–my lap, I am completely distracted by an avian drama unfolding just a few yards away, outside the sliding glass door that opens onto the balcony.

The hummingbird feeder hanging next to the doorway is the place, hummingbirds agree!  Five or six of the little guys  are darting about, up and down, all around, perching on nearby branches between feedings.  Somehow, these little guys caught on, within minutes of my filling the feeder, that this is the spot for tasty nectar.

How can I not set aside what I’d intended to write, with so much buzzing going on? The dainty look and diminutive size of these little creatures is belied by the loud, bee-like buzzing  their wings make when the birds are in motion.  In fact, they sound like warlike little commandos as they dart about.

The buzzing sharpens with hostility as one of the tiny warriors chases another hummingbird away from the feeder.  Clearly, ‘share and share alike’ is not the hummingbird’s mantra.  Instead, these tiny birds seem to embody an ethic of ‘look out for number one.’  Even though the feeder is equipped with 10 feeding holes, a hummer who has the feeder to itself for a time will almost always chase off an approaching fellow hummer than tolerate its presence at one of the other nine holes!  Only occasionally do I see two birds drinking from the feeder at the same time.  And it’s usually not long before one of them decides to chase the other off.

In fact, hummingbirds spend so much time running off their fellows, darting this way and that, and hovering above, below, and beside the feeder, I’m surprised they don’t use up more energy in all that movement than they take in at the feeder!

In the last few minutes, as I’ve been writing, it has begun to rain, and there was just a loud clap of thunder.  Suddenly, the buzzing has stopped, and I see no hummingbirds.  Where did they go, I wonder.  Did they find their way to their usual nighttime retreat?  Or are they huddled, unseen, on some branch nearby or under some leaves?

In any event, I must remember to refill the feeder so that tomorrow I can enjoy the same distraction from my work!–April Moore

5 Responses to “Those Hummingbirds!”

  1. Elizabeth Cottrell Says:

    Aren’t they wonderful to watch? I was thrilled to see this year, for the first time, a male and female going through a courting ritual. The female was perched right outside my kitchen sink window looking out (with her back to me). Hovering in front of her, and flying in repeated arcs back and forth, was the male trying to win her favor. Her little head bobbed back and forth as though watching a tennis match. This went on for several minutes before he flew away and she flew after him. Quite a show!

  2. Diane Artz Furlong Says:

    I don’t have a feeder but I have a butterfly bush right by the deck. Hummers don’t visit it as often as they will a nectar feeder but I do get entertained.
    A few days ago I was standing on the deck sending a gentle spray of water from the hose onto my Franklinia tree. Branches from a huge winter jasmine bush were between me and the tree and so all a little hummer spotted was the water spray. She flew in and sat on a branch not a foot from me and proceeded to have her morning shower. Never have I been so awestruck. I tried not to move the spray so that it would just be a gentle splash on her. She preened and fluttered her wings and shook herself and had a wonderful time in that little shower bath from the watering hose, never knowing that I was holding it for her. Or maybe she did…..

  3. Todd Says:

    Hi April, We have hummers here in Nova Scotia too! And a feeder! Often see several at once but not at the feeder together. On several occasions I have seen a male do the courting swoop: big 30 foot swoops up onto the air, then stop and swoop back and up the other side, showing off for a lady. What fun to watch! Namaste, Todd

  4. Jude Pardee Says:

    Here in Nambé, the hummingbird season is from mid-April until late September. Because I’m not far from the Rio Grande and have lots of trees, flowering plants and feeders, they stick around and entertain me for months. By now all the usual varieties have arrived — black-chinned, broad-tailed and rufous — and some have produced fledglings! One thing I’ve learned from Dan True’s book, and have confirmed at my place, is that the many of the males move on once the babies begin to feed on their own. In this respect at least, they aren’t “looking out for number one,” since the evolutionary purpose is to ensure there is food enough for the new generation.

  5. Kent Says:

    I can see two outside my window right now. One is sitting on a perch next to the feeder, and one is flitting about trying to figure out how to get past the first one. It seems they get the most aggressive just before sundown with each one trying to be the last one to claim the feeder for it’s own.

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