what to do about bully rufous?

catwhiskas(z5 Denver, CO)July 26, 2005

I have a Rufous visitng for the past week or so. He does not let anyone else into my yard when he is guarding, which is most of the time. He guards all 3 of my feeders from high above in a tree and then swoops down on any other hummers that come to eat and chases them away. The others are Broadtail and Calliope, which seem to get along just fine with one another, however, they are hungry and Rufous won't let them eat - what do I do?

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standard65(z6/7 nashville)

it might help to place a feeder or two on the other side of the house so that everyone can eat wherever the rufous isn't. is it possible to place your feeders where they cannot all be seen at once from any vantage point?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 6:29PM
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alan_la(10A s Cal)

Just move one of the feeders out of sight.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 6:38PM
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catwhiskas(z5 Denver, CO)

Yes, I currently have all 3 in the backyard - I can place one in front of the house ...but I hope they will find it!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 6:43PM
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bob_n_bernie_wa(z4/5 WA)

We have feeders on the front and back of our house. We use to have a TV antenna on the roof just about the same distance from all of them. The male Rufous would set on the antenna and guard all the feeders with ease..lol

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 9:02PM
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Too funny Bob...but so true!

...and yes to all of the above...spread the feeders around your front yard and backyard and on the sides too. Then you can have fun watching your bully rufous fly back and forth over your roof trying to guard them all :o)

~ Cat

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 11:09PM
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What if I only have one feeder, and everything was great until today, when one "bully" male is now fiercely driving ALL other hummers away from the feeder? He himself hardly even drinks from it. But he drives all others away, young and adult, and he has even bashed into them while doing it. This all began today. Very frustrating for me, because I know I have to let nature take its course. But just yesterday I had nine hummingbirds all sharing the feeder, even males with the females.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 6:24PM
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Amy It won't last long. Mister bully bird will be gone all too soon in my opinion! You can put a bunch of feeders up but I guarantee he will still chase everyone away including the bees. At least that's what happens here. The other day I went outside to water some plants and the chase was so low I almost stepped on two little hummies. Sarah

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 6:38PM
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catwhiskas(z5 Denver, CO)

Putting up more than one feeder usually eases the situation a little bit. The non-bully will usually get to sip out of the second feeder every now and then. It's good to be sure the extra feeder is out of sight of the first one.

*After taking the advice from the great people on this forum, this seemed to have worked well for me!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 6:45PM
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Thanks! I just can't help but "feel bad" for the others because we're in such a horrible drought, and my little yard with the wildflower garden and nectar is pretty rare in this neighborhood. I've had the hummer feeder up since spring and it's done really great. Last month I was making a new cup of nectar every single night, they went through it so fast. And then yesterday I had the most birds at one time so far. :)

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 10:27PM
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Amy I have a question are you near West Virginia? Sarah

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 11:02PM
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Hi Sarah, from where I live it takes about an hour to drive to the West VA line. We are about 40 or so miles south of downtown Pittsburgh, in a pretty rural area.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 9:23AM
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Hi Amy, I was just curious because I was reading on the Pa listserv all about the tons of hummingbirds that scott weidensaul along with the sargents catch and band and teach prospective hummingbird banders the first two weeks of august It sounded so neat! Sarah

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 10:02AM
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Oh I know what you mean, I'm on the Listserv too. What a sight that would be!!! :)

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 12:45PM
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Yeah really awsome! Sarah

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 2:31PM
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wineandviolin(4 MN)

A few years ago Smithsonian magazine had an article about hummingbirds. Under social behavior, they listed none observed. Wish I could remember which month/year it was for you. The article also commented that if hummers were the size of crows, it would be dangerous to go outside. Agressive behavior is the norm. Now if hummers were the size of crows, how big would the feeder have to be, and wouldn't they knock on the door to remind you when it got empty?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2005 at 12:04AM
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Scyfer(z10 CA)

There's definitely social behavior for hummingbirds, at least some (most? non rufous -.-) species. The Smithsonian needs to observe harder :P

If I could get rid of any hummingbird species, and hole them up on a deserted island away from any feeders, it's the rufous. From their horrible shrieks to constant sniping of more friendly species to the way they flare their tales and do a 360 in place while yelling at intruders, it all just upsets me.

I had about 10 hummingbirds sharing the feeder a few weeks ago (before the third nesting season started here in California and all the hummers became little egg-balls) with about 4-5 black chinned females (which are adorable, curious and really friendlu), two males at a time, a couple of anna's, and a couple of allen's females in all. One day after the feeder ran a little low and the birds got agitated because they didn't have nectar, I refilled the feeder and one horrible little rufous female (which had shared nicely before with everyone :/ or at least tolerated sharing of the feeder) emerged as the dominant bird. She's very flightly and afraid of me but aggressive as anything to any flying creature near the feeder.

I think this traumatic nectar event upset the hummingbird balance in the backyard and gave the rufous the upper hand :(

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 3:07PM
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Can someone please advise! We have a bully and do not have another spot to hang a second feeder out of sight. Do they stay very long? Should I take the feeder down for a while to discourage him? I am very frustrated.....

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 6:27PM
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I live in an apartment and I have had 10 or 12 hummingbirds last year. This year I only have one male hummingbird and it is bullying all the other hummers a way. What do you do to stop the bullying or get rid of it. He has been here months. I want birds back! Await hearing from you.

Thank you,


    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 4:31PM
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I had an immature male Rufous all winter and he wouldn't let any Ruby-throated feed in the back yard at all. In the past years I had a male Ruby who kept the back yard to himself but I don't know if the Rufous scared him away this year or if he just didn't return. My female Rufous from last year returned and she kept the side yard to herself. So I ended up with just the two this year. Two weeks ago I had 4 Rubys show up to feed and the Rufous was not in the yard at those times. I am thinking he has now left as Monday was the last day I saw him. he's probably headed northwest now. Watch out for Rufford. "Ruthie" the female left on Feb. 13th.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 8:20PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I'm not an expert by an means, but these are wild animals who are doing their best to survive. They need to protect any food source they can to try to save it for their own kind/family. It's just nature's way. If you have the ability to plant flowers that provide nectar sources or attract insects for the hummers to prey upon, you might be able to spread the food sources around in such a way that more birds have access and the bullies aren't able to guard it all. I know it makes a lot more work for you/us, but it also provides more diversity of food sources for more types of animals. I think I read somewhere that hummers need insects to feed their young because of the need for high protein food for rapid growth.

Another very unpopular option would be to eliminate the bullies permanently. But, I don't think very many here would consider that acceptable. Good luck to all. Happy Saturday.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 12:51PM
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I have done everything that has been posted regarding "the bully". He is relentless...I have three feeders and I put them where Mr. Bully cannot see the other two...or so I thought! Now he has found a perch where he can see two and seems to have radar on the third. He swoops up and over the house to all of them. I wish I had that much energy. Anywho, he absolutely will not share, period. I have the Hummzingers which seem to be the most attractive to them, and I have tried them all. I keep them clean and filled and there is plenty of sap and plenty of room, but he just chases everyone away. I guess there is just no trick or answer. He did it last year too...only once did I see three happy together drinking out of the same feeder until Mr. Bully appeared. If anybody knows of any tricks, would love to hear them.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 6:05PM
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janalyn(sw BC)

I have feeders in the front and the back of the house. The roof is such that those in the front cannot see those in the back. It works. Mr. Rufus sits in the back on a tree branch scouting like mad, but he cannot see the party going on in the front. If he does do a check somehow the others know to go to the back. It's nature. If you are providing two different hummer feeder places, well, you are doing all you can.
And by the way, when I travel and go by homes with hummingbird feeders up, I always think, "Nice people live there!" :)

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 8:26PM
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Do not despair. The fact they show up everyday indicates they are getting fed somewhere.
I have seen the dom bird chase and others come in to feed.
Also, at the end of the day the dom bird will go to sleep and the others will have a chance to fill up before nightfall.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 11:40PM
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For the 1st time I had a bully that I fought with the water hose. It left and then another took over. I did not know what to do. I took down the feeders but then I felt bad for the others. It is time to take them down but I will miss them I had over a dozen at a time at one feeder such a sight. One feeder used 30 oz and one with 16 oz. I kept making a gallon every other day. I once had a nest with 3 eggs and I could feed the Mother with a spoon when she came in to roost. I took a picture with my camera inches away. I saw her teach and wing her babies. Got under them and would not let them land and force them way up in the sky and then leave them, they had to fiy and she did it to all 3, 2 years in a row.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2014 at 11:37PM
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I have a serious problem that my Bully Rufus now even protects my water fountain. Hummers now are no where in sight. He is so cruel and actually have had them on the cement fighting so hard that I took all 12 feeders down for awhile. He actually injured one little hummer which I came to the rescue and held the little Anna until she was okay again. One gentleman on this sight said they are only defending food. NO, some of these bullies go beyond and harm or kill as so selfish and want it all to themselves. Many people give so much love to fee the birds and these bullies are taking it all away from these hungry little hummers. I wish their was something one can do to rid bullies. I have tried water spray, even to the point of cutting branches from my apricot tree where he sits to watch. Imagine a little thing that is a fifth of an ounce, like the weight of a dime to cause so much heartbreak for hungry little hummers and

people who is trying to feed them. I have seen bullies chase the hummers away but not to the point of actually killing them which I have seen them do with some bullies. I have this very dangerous bullie and nothing I have tried works. All my ten one quart feeders are cleaned and put away because I don't want any more hummers hurt from this vicious bully.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2015 at 6:03PM
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