I’m on my screened porch sipping coffee and enjoying the weather.  There isn’t a soul for miles, no traffic noise, someone’s rooster is crowing about a half mile off (we shot our rooster….long story).  The sky is brilliant blue and the air is sweet.  A single crow is cawing in the field and there’s an owl hooting from one of the oaks.  Our chickens are pecking contentedly at the unmowed lawn.  This is the good life.  Urban dwellers can get pizza delivered.  I’ve got nature.

Not two feet from me a  hummingbird feeder is hanging from a cord.  There are also patches of flowers and an ancient rose bush…all in bloom.  There’s a screen between me and the feeder.  It’s a good thing too…

…because the humming birds are having a full fledged aerial combat showdown.  At least four and possibly more are going at it like Snoopy and the Red Baron.  There will be a brief period of peace.  Less than a minute.  Then all hell will break loose.

A hummingbird will make a run at the feeder.  This will cause a couple others to dive in from nowhere chattering what I assume to be death threats and songs of havoc in hummingbird language.  They’ll bully the intruder away only to find a different party has slipped past the radar and is Bogarting the nectar.  They’ll charge at the one on the feeder and he’ll charge right back at ’em.  “Oh yeah!  You and who’s army!”  Which will send opposing forces into disarray.  He’ll turn back to the feeder only to find his perch has been taken.  While he hovers, planning his attack, a couple more will circle behind him to come up from underneath and chase him back to the trees.

Meanwhile someone else is making another run at the feeder, a couple others will drop out of the sky to fend him off, another one will slip in behind the defenders…and it starts all over again.

I like humming birds.  They’re cool little guys.  I love the precision of their flight.  I love their energetic manner.  On the other hand they engage in constant war.  The only reason it’s amusing is because they’re two inches long and don’t actually kill each other.  If they were the size of crows and battled so incessantly I’d have to take down the feeder and disperse the party.

Everyone else is inside watching TV.  TV sucks!  I prefer Mother Nature’s dogfight demonstration.

Update:  Holly shit!  There’s more than I thought.  I knew there seemed to be a constant supply of fueled aerial fighters ready to join the action but I’d never seen more than four simultaneously.  I don’t know how long each one would sit out in the trees between jousting runs?  I surely had more than four but how many?  Just now six were going at it in a swarming, chriping, fluttering, clashing (yes they collide!) battle that improbably fit in about 3 cubic feet of space…constantly swirling with activity.  Even the cats couldn’t follow the action.

I still don’t know how many reinforcements are watching from the trees but it must be several more.  Castle Curmudgeon is rich in hummingbirds if not in cash.  I think I need to get another feeder.

About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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16 Responses to Hummingbirds

  1. Suz says:

    You could put up a feeder for each one and they’d still fight! On the one hand, they’d probably be better off if they’d just spend their energy sucking down nectar; on the other hand, they do put on a great show!

  2. Tam says:

    Having grown up in the ‘burbs, I will never go back.

    There are only two places worth living, as far as I’m concerned: The one where you can walk to get sushi, and the one where you can shoot skeet off your back porch.

    • When shopping for a house I told the Realtor I wanted to fire a rifle off the front porch stark naked while drinking whiskey…that seemed to steer her away from covenant controlled neighborhoods.

      Is there anywhere you can shoot sushi off your back porch?

      • Unbelievable…

        When my Mrs. wanted to move out of the ‘burb & into the country, I told her to “find a place where I can drink beer while naked on the porch, throw the cans into the driveway, shoot them with my pistol, & no one will care.”

        She did, & here we are…

      • Well done!

        Real estate shopping would be easier if they had a category for nude, drinking, gunnut.

  3. Shepherd K says:

    We need video. Some of us love hummingbirds but live in a hummingbird poor area.

  4. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Wikipedia does not mention territorial behavior in Hummingbirds, nor do I remember David Attenborough mentioning such behavior. I have to wonder if you have observed something hitherto unnoticed.

    If you’re interested, I’m sure the local Audubon society could refer you to a local college with people interested in Hummingbird behavior. You might even be asked to contribute to a paper.

    Or maybe that’s too much trouble…..

  5. Now that sounds like an awesome day. I didn’t get any aerial battles, but I did learn that if you see a butterfly called a “cabbage white” hanging around the salad bed with its wilting beets, lone basil of the apocalypse, and flourishing kale, the kale is shortly going to have a bumper crop of caterpillars chewing away.

    On the other hand, three eggplants survived despite everything, and two are finally putting out flowers – and the three surviving tomato plants have a few green tomatoes I’m going to get before the birds. Better yet, the morning glory that thrived in the same neglect that killed t he salad bed is just about to bust out in bloom.

    I wonder if I could hang a hummingbird feeder in the dogwood and sucker in an aerial combat show of my own, once the morning glory lures ’em in…

    Shot your rooster? Sounds like a peaceful, quiet place now. On the other hand, that does mean you’ll have to get your chicks elsewhere… or lure the neighbor’s rooster over.

    • We’ve been buying chicks. Lame eh? The last two rooters have been failures. The first one was gay and the second one was an asshole. Go figure.

      I’ve got a few more young male birds growing up. If one of them works out he’ll have a long and happy life.

      Speaking of luring the neighbor’s rooster over I think a few of the free range hens paid calls on the neighbor’s rooster. He never came over here but a few hens disappeared for a few nights. Lucky fella!

      • What breed are you raising? I’ll second the hope for a happy, healthy, studly rooster.

        I have flat out refused to have chickens in the yard – I still have a few scars and permanent bad attitude toward raising chickens. Unfortunately, this failed to dampen the annual enthusiasm that comes from visiting the FFA kids and their animals at the county fair, and my housemate is engaged in a campaign to convince my husband and myself that we really ought to have meat rabbits.

        Here, I was just happy that the gardening wasn’t a total failure despite all my gardening knowledge being for the subarctic, and three months of total neglect while I was gone. I’m not sure we should go from a little home-grown kale with the red beans and rice, and fresh rosemary with the goat, to meat rabbits. Especially as your problems multiply and breed like… rabbits. Are you laughing hard enough you have to worry about spilling your beer yet? I know I’m going to lose this battle…

  6. Rob says:

    No hummingbirds here. We do have dragonflies the size of hummingbirds, though…

  7. Pingback: I want humming birds too! « The end of civilization

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