Humm...Big bird problem?

patsi(z7-S.Jersey)May 28, 2008

Do not have hummer activity as in previous years.

I miss the hummers that would perch every morning and evening outside my kitchen window.

Could it be because I put out a feeder last winter?

It atracted many birds to my garden and now many are still hanging around.

Winter Birds

I now have many many more large birds like...robins,grackles and cardinals

plus some small birds like carolina wrens(nested in my shed)and carolina chickadees.

Is it possible the big birds are scaring off the hummers...

What do I do?

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rita_h(PNW 8b)

Hi, patsi. I have suet and seed feeders about 6 feet from the hummer feeder and it doesn't seem to bother the hummers a bit, so don't give up. I hang out and repot plants on the deck a few feet from the feeders and they just ignore me for the most part. The littlest birds seem to be the most carefree -- hummers, chickadees, bushtits, ...

It's funny to see a little rufous scold a northern flicker ....

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 4:12PM
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I've seen the hummers chase the house wrens who would always nest here.
Now everybody is nesting in my trees and elsewhere.
Sure would hate to choose between hummers and feeding the birds in the winter.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 4:45PM
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chescobob(z6b SEPA)


I have a wide variety of large and small birds here. They have 9 feeders in Winter and still feed on sunflower hearts, BOSS, suet, fruit and nuts, and peanuts in a shell. They also enjoy their birdbath and some bird is always flying in the back yard. This year, the current resident male hummer showed up earlier than any hummer did last year. Little Man has been here since April 30 guarding his territory and I assume there is a little nest somewhere around.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 7:50PM
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My male ruby attacks my cardinals head on! They are fearless when defending a feeder.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 9:31PM
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We did have our first sighting May 11th with the female on May 21th. They were just going after my flowers and only twice did I see any at feeders. Now I only see the male every few days sitting on my homemade perch right before dark.
I hope maybe she has a nest which is why I haven't seen her lately.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 5:39PM
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I was worried about the big birds too. I have many more than last year. My hummers also seem to be at the feeders less. I see them every morning at my front feeder. Just a few feet away from a robin's nest, and others in a birdhouse. Seem to share the area fine. I'm sure your female is fine. Probably slipping in for a quick drink when your not looking.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 6:46PM
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The male might be keeping the female away from the feeder. Seen/heard any fights, especially near dusk? Males get very territorial about dependable food sources.

For all their wonderful qualities, hummingbirds aren't very chivalrous creatures, that's for sure!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 7:47PM
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I have a deck out my back door covered with container plants that are butterfly and hummingbird friendly. Three feet on the far side of desk are all types of bird feeders and ground feeders. Chickadees, Indigo Blue Buntings, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Doves, Gold Finches and several more feed there. I had my hummer feeders on the corner of the deck where several flowering containers are set. I didn't get a single hummer at the flowers or feeder. I moved the feeder about 15 feet to the side of the deck and with 48 hours have a steady stream of hummers. I'm not sure if they felt bullied by the bigger birds and commotion or if it being in a quieter spot drew them in. But try different locations - you just have to find there "sweet" spot.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 9:41PM
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A lot of people are having the same problem you are having this year but Im sure things will pick up soon.. hang in there.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 1:36AM
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Well it's June 21 and only had 1 sighting a week since the first.
I did move one of the feeders as suggested.
Today makes 2 days in a row of perching by 2 males but very little use of feeders or flowers.
Hope it continues.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2008 at 7:59PM
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Well it's July 5th.
And only one hummer daily.

This guy was just sitting as usual at 6:30 am.

Then behind him which is why he's out of focus came this guy

As soon as the hummer spotted the cardinal he went

I'm still hoping the reason we don't have more than one hummer early morning and late night
isn't because the the many big birds nesting in the back yard.

The other guys are entertaining...

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 4:50PM
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Great pics patsi!
I too have had minimal hummer activity. In the past, regardless of the racket the starlings made at the suet feeder, or the large number of goldfinches at my feeder and on the plants, I'm only seeing a hummer, once a week IF I'M LUCKY! I've only seen one male and one female. The last few years, I'd see at least one once a day. This year it's definitely killing me, not seeing them daily. I've had a robin nest in the forsynthia, which is only a few feet away from my feeder, and that never bothered my hummers. I haven't even seen a monarch butterfly yet! Overall, butterfly activity is alot less as well. Few cabbage whites, sparse Eastern Swallowtails, although I have seen a few Black Swallowtails that were kind enough to leave me a load of caterpillars, most of which have been eliminated, probably by wasps. I have already released 2 butterflies & have 5 more chrysalids & 2 more cats still feeding. At least the mosquito population is up (yes, sarcasm), but it's keeping the bats happy, which too, appear to have had their numbers dwindle too :(

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 6:46PM
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I have had a lot of hummer activity. Is is usually just one and maybe two at a time if I am lucky. I have my feeder with the other feeders under a mulberry tree so the tree has constant birds in there and the hummer doesn't seem to mind. What I find strange is that the hummer is there every hour lately. I am wondering if it has to do with the cool, damp weather we are having in New England right now. Maybe some of the nectar flowers are not in full bloom yet??

It can't hurt to move the feeder a little to see if it helps. Do you know if any of your neighbors are feeding hummers? Sometimes if there are multiple places the hummers can go to get their fix they may not stop as frequently at your feeder. I hope you start getting more traffic soon.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 9:05PM
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In April, we take down our "big bird feeders" and replace them with hummer feeders. There is ample seed food in the wild for the big birds in our area by then. In early winter, we reverse it when we don't see hummers for a month.

Now, the big birds that you really need to worry about are hawks. They will catch the hummers like other prey. :-( When we hear the hawks, we keep watch over our hummers. We have a large open meadow, so we can usually see the hawks coming our way if we're out in the garden.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 10:01PM
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I have never heard of hawks catching hummingbirds before. I don't see why it couldn't happen, but it seems that although the hawks are much faster in airspeed, the hummers are so much more agile and quick they could avoid being captured fairly easily. I do have a frequent hawk visitor, so that worries me. Maybe you can elaborate, wonby?

Praying mantises are another the link below if you aren't squeamish about nature's horrors.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mantis Captures Hummingbird

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 10:30AM
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Mbuckmaster, a good friend of ours actually witnessed a hawk picking a hummingbird out of mid-air. She was sitting on the porch of a B&B in the NC mountains where the garden was full of hummers. Every since she told us about this, we've tried to be alert. There is a nesting pair of red-tailed hawks in our neighbor's trees across our meadow.

In the winter, when we see the birds suddenly flee the feeders, we often seen the problem...the hawk comes into our garden and perches on our fence. I've seen a hawk take out a big squirrel. This hawk pinned the poor squirrel to the ground while slowly killing it. It was rough to see.

Our garden is certified as both a NWF Backyard Habitat and a Monarch Waystation. Sometimes the "food chain" isn't what we'd like to witness. I've had mockingbirds pick butterflies out of the air and bullfrogs jump several feet out of the stream to catch a goldfinch or a butterfly.


    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 11:11AM
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The hawk and mockingbird story,what a horrible thing to see.
I thought NC would be a great place to live.Maybe a little warm in summer compared to NJ.
We too have halks but not in this residential area.

I too have seen less butterflys.
But now I am getting hummer daily activity-mostly morning and night.
Maybe it's because the big birds had their babies already.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 5:54PM
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Cameron, thanks for sharing. A chilling tale. I like to think I am a hale and hearty guy, but I would probably faint dead away if I saw a bullfrog jump out of a seemingly innocent stream and swallow a goldfinch whole!! Wow.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 9:17PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Very surprising with regards to the mantis. In South America it would not surprise me as there are several very large (and quite beautiful) mantis species. I had not thought our native mantises were large/strong enough to take out a hummer.

Cam, are bullfrogs actually SC natives? Just curious. While bullfrogs are native to the US, their range has spread (often due to people releasing them into the wild. In those areas of the country to which they are not native, they are a serious danger to the local ecologies -- wiping out local frog populations and other species. In some of those areas, conservationist actually have to go through and exterminate the invading bullfrog pops.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 5:12PM
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