The Hummingbirds are At It Again

By , June 13, 2010

There’s a popular bumper sticker in Alaska that reads: “Alaska girls kick ass!” This is definitely true, particularly if one is speaking of female rufous hummingbirds.Saturday morning I stepped out the front door into a firefight. Deep burring filled the air as hummingbirds swooped wildly through the yard, chattering vehemently at each other as they battled for control of the feeder. At one point four birds hovered near the feeder.

We were mesmerized by the activity. It actually distracted us from listening to Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me! Their tactics and maneuvers varied from full on, threat display frontal attack to sneaky, slashing dives from above. Feathers and droppings flew. Combatants slapped against the window and came out swinging as if nothing had happened. No quarter asked or given!

All of a sudden, in the midst of the worst dog fighting, something changed. All aggression ceased, and three of the hummingbirds landed on the feeder and began to drink together. Within seconds of knock down drag out action, they sat peacefully, wing-to-wing. They’d apparently called a “time out.” They drew so much nectar that several large bubbles popped up in the feeder. Shortly, the truce apparently ended, and they went back to swarming at each other like bitter enemies.

The increased activity of the last few days comes after a long period of calm. Some days we wouldn’t see any hummingbirds at all. At this time of the year the males have probably moved on, and the females are probably sitting on their nests. I don’t know if they’re suddenly free to pester each other over the feeder because the eggs have hatched? It’s hard to say. Whatever has happened, the action’s on once again, and for now, gazing out the window is one of the most exciting things to do on the homestead.

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