Skip to comments.PMS Run Amock or The Hummingbird From Hell!!
Posted on 09/05/2003 6:39:34 AM PDT by bert
EAST TENNESSEE . September 5, 2003 It is a given, A mans house is his Castle . You own the property, have a deed and can pretty much decide what happens within the boundaries. Some may argue that the deed is only a permit from the government to whom you pay rent in the form of taxes. But the truth is, there are others who think they own your property and expend lots of time and energy defending it from the aggression.
I have a fairly typical house on a typical suburban lot. It is occupied by myself and my wife. There are relics here and there of a child who moved to his own place years ago. There are several creatures who have settled in on the lot and consider major portions to be theirs.
The most aggressive and the reason for this essay is a female Ruby Throated Hummingbird. I put up a feeder outside my glass walled office and began to observe the frequent presence of visitors who slip their long beaks into the feeder orifice to extract the sugar water. Sometimes the visitors smack their lips and extend their amazingly long tongues. Sometimes the visits take seconds hovering on the wing and sometimes the visit lasts several minutes while the visitor leisurely feeds and rests and preens.
I also began to notice that multiple visitors were present and that before any serious feeding could occur, from out of nowhere, a determined dive bomber swept from the sky. The feeding attempt was disrupted, and two hummingbirds would depart with one in the lead and a second in close formation. The second was so close behind it seemed to be pricking the wingmate in the butt. Around and around they would soar. Across the drive and adjacent garage, curving in an upward arc, and then down and back. Finally it would be over.
I watched this action several times and began to wonder where the aggressor came from. Try as I would, I could not determine the source.
There are others who consider my castle home. There are several chipmunks that occupy carefully defined territories. Woe be unto the one who intrudes. There are wild Chip and Dale chases with much chirping as the encounter winds down. On occasion, a chipmunk well within its own domain will be run down and rolled over by one of the squirrels who consider the same area as their own. This seems to be sport rather than territorial dominance. The gray squirrel does it simply because he can.
But back to the main theme. Chipmunks love sunflower seeds. The one who occupies the territory under the hummingbird feeder always checks out the top of the wood pile for sunflower seeds. One morning as the chipmunk ventured across the drive towards the wood pile, from nowhere came the humming bird strafing the hapless chipmunk and forcing it to take refuge under the car.
I finally learned about the hummingbird s lair. She lives in the Leatherleaved Viburnam bush a mere 20 feet away from the feeder. Keep in mind the humming bird has a green back and is not bigger than your thumb. Her gray breast and white tipped tail feathers positively indicate her sex. She is very hard to see within the shrub and even when perched on a leafless branch is barely visible 20 feet away.
There are also Wrens who live in and around my house. They stay pretty close. They carefully probe all the logs in the wood pile and the spaces in between the logs. Occasionally they fly through the open patio doors into the office where they carefully inspect all the house plants and the computer, and the copy machine. Wrens are incredibly curious. Wrens are also small. Compared to the other birds in my domain, the wrens are the smallest.
That is until the Hummingbird from hell came to live with us all. It is becoming near the time for southerly migration for the Hummingbird. Her goal is to gain as much weight as she can and spend the least possible energy while doing so. She has a really bad case of PMS Pre Migration Syndrome.
The Leatherleaf bush is the acknowledged home of the Sapsucker who has been coming there for years, even decades. It bothers no one, quietly climbing up the branches and carefully perforating the bark with little holes. It allows the Chickadees and the Wrens to occupy the space.
No more. The tranquility of the Leatherleaf is gone. The tiny Humming bird let it be known that it is her bush. She hovers so close to the trespassers that their feathers are ruffled by the prop wash from her rapidly beating wings. The Chickadees and the Wrens have been vanquished by the Hummingbird. They are gone from the Leatherwood bush.
It is truly a wonder to watch the events related take place. The Hummingbird is amazingly small but with aggressive determination dominates the air and ground space outside my office. All I can do is hope she has a peasant trip to Florida.
That's for next season. I'm wondering if the same Hummers return to the same spaces?
Just like most migrating birds, a lot of them do.
You've taken the time to really know your kingdom!! ;-)
There's nothing like that first hummer of the season, though, you're out in the garden, and suddenly you get 'buzzed', and you run inside and start boiling water. LOL!
We've had as many as 30 hummers competing for two feeders, but you can walk in amongst them and they don't crash into you. Frequently, you can get them to land on your hand.
Local record is a guy in the Jemez mountains that goes through 20 pounds of sugar a day prior to migration.
A local author wrote, "If rufous were as big as hawks, people couldn't go outside".
Yes, they will come back to the same feeder location, year after year -- even when the feeder is gone.
I live in Colorado, and we have bears that frequent our neighborhood. This means that we have to bring the hummingbird feeders in at night, or the bears will pull them down.
I'm up at dawn during the week, and I hang the feeder as I go out to get the paper. On the weekends, I don't get up quite that early, and the hummingbirds are very annoyed by the time I get around to delivering their breakfast. Often, there are a half dozen of them flying back and forth through the empty space where the feeder would hang.
This year, we only have a single feeder. In prior years, we've had as many as four hanging under a second-story deck (the deck is being replaced this year, so the hummingbirds are having to make do with less). In the last week of August and the first two weeks of September, the PMS crowd would number 60 to 80 birds in the morning (very difficult to count those little suckers!), and they could empty all four feeders by noon.
All summer, we've seen hummingbirds fly to the spots where those four feeders hung last year and hover, looking around for their rightful offerings in vain, then speeding off. The odd thing is not only is the feeder missing, but the deck isn't there either!
I always knew there was something I liked about hummingbirds
We have rather large numbers, so the only way we can tell that we have returnees is by their seeking the feeders at last year's locations.
If you have few or none returning, perhaps the ones you saw the prior year didn't survive the migration.
She'll be going coach, I take it.
Not bigger by a whole lot. We were standing on our front porch and this little guy was about three feet away for about 15 or 20 seconds. I thought when I first saw it that it was the biggest bumblebee I had ever seen. The he stopped at a flower and I saw the beek. Knew it was a hummingbird but I had just never seen one marked like that.