Aggressive/territorial Hummingbird? silly newbie question...

DurtGrrl(z7 MiddleTN)August 16, 2005

Hi--

I just started feeding hummingbirds this last year. I've been watching them visit my plants, and my Dad always had feeders up. Recently (last month or so) a female Ruby Throated hummingbird has staked out the feeders (2, on the porch). The feeders are separated by about 15 feet and she just camps out in the crepe myrtle tree near the porch and waits. As soon as she sees another hummer she zooms in and starts chewing him/her out in bird language and chases him/her off! I swear I've seen her peck at the other birds. It's funny and cool to watch, but I worry that the other birds won't get any of the sugar water and worry that she'll chase off any other species that might grace me with their presence :) I do enjoy her antics, though, and today I saw her chase off a mockingbird that got too close to "her" crepe myrtle.

Am I being silly? I know that hummers (esp. the Rufous) have a reputation for being aggressive. Is there anything I can do?

Thanks!

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CHARANN102(z7PA)

Welcome DurtGrrl! We all have similar stories of aggressive and territorial hummies. They are little piggies and like to keep the feeder or special plants for themselves. Sharing sometimes doesn't even seem to be a part of their vocabulary.

I have 3 juveniles feeding at my feeders right now and yesterday the male perched on the feeder and just sat there. He wasn't eating...just guarding the feeder. The minute one of the females would come near it, he would chase her away. This went on for about 15 minutes. It wouldn't have been quite so bad if he had been drinking nectar but he was just protecting the food source from them.

There isn't anything I know to do. Finally the two females ganged up on him and chased him away. There was quite a frenzy of "tag" going on in the yard. Finally each found a source of food that suited them and things quited down for awhile until Junior decided to dominate again. He is just now getting the red at his throat.

I don't think you have to worry about the others going hungry; there are many of us feeding them and lots and lots of flowers - wild and otherwise - for them to use.

Charlotte

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 10:27PM
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standard65(z6/7 nashville)

hi, and greetings from nashville.
there is something you can do. put a feeder on each side of the house, or separated in some way that they cannot be seen or guarded simultaneously.
sometimes, I see #3 get a good drink when #2 tries to get to the feeder and #1 chases him off.
keep us posted.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 12:55AM
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DurtGrrl(z7 MiddleTN)

Thanks Charlotte and Standard! (I'm in Nashville too!). I appreciate the reassurance that this is normal and that they'll be fine. I have planted hummingbird friendly flowers, and have seen them drinking from those--but that silly hummer who guards the feeders guards the flowers--it's all within her sightline from the crepe myrtle tree! Standard, I think I will put some feeders in the back yard--maybe where we can watch them out the back windows.
Thank you! :)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 9:21AM
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glok(z 4/5 CO)

DurtGrrl,
Once you put up more feeders, you've pretty much done all you can except, sit back and enjoy the air show! It's really fun and quite relaxing to see hummers be hummers! They really are quite fearless when it comes to their territory. We love watching them take on each other as well as much bigger birds!

Enjoy! and welcome to the board!

glo

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 11:45AM
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DurtGrrl(z7 MiddleTN)

Glo--thank you for the welcome and the further reassurance. I was a little concerned that there might be something in my sugar that I'm using for the nectar--she chased 2 mockingbirds out of the crepe myrtle tree last night. I was literally agape--it was shocking and hilarious.
This is such a neat forum--great info!
Cheers,
DurtGrrl

    Bookmark   August 18, 2005 at 5:55PM
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oubliette(z7 MS)

Welcome to the forum, DurtGrrl! So glad you love to watch their antics. Sounds like you are providing a great habitat for them. The action should really pick up in the next few weeks as migration gets underway.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 6:28AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

Mine have chased off bees, butterflies, chicadees and goldfinches. THey really stand their ground when they think that their turf is being invaded.

Disclaimer:I do not agree with nor endorse the use of "Sponsored Links" possibly embedded in my posts by the owner of this or any other website and would never purchase anything from any advertiser that used this deceptive type of advertising.

Penny

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 9:10AM
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mvineyid129

I have had hummingbird feeders on my porch for years and have always loved watching the antics of aggressive alpha male hummies. However this often limits the quantity and variety of birds feeding. This year I hung a huge hanging basket of orange, red and yellow mini petunias next to feeder and this for now seems to have solved the aggression problem. When my alpha chases away other birds, they just go straight to the flowers for I assume second best, but never the less the alpha can tolerate their presence without his macho display.
I do realize that this may be short lived as the alpha will probably figure out my ploy and protect both domains feeder and basket, but for now it is great fun seeing multiple birds feeding.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2008 at 7:22AM
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myrtle_59

When you are that little you have to be quick and mean or you don't survive.

I had a Chihuahua like that.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2008 at 11:14AM
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mvineyid129

Yup, for sure, i have a 9 pound toy poodle with same disposition and activity level as the hummingbirds !!
My new question is those of you who have had experience with sick hummies at the feeder. They stay perched for hours, feathers are puffy and breathing/seems labored.
Once a year this happens and I was wondering if they can be helped in any way. It is very sad to watch, especially when the other hummies terrorize them

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 8:23AM
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bern_beatty_mba_wfu_edu

In a recent Birds and Blooms magazine was a photo of a folding clothesline on which were hung perhaps fifteen feeders and many visible birds perched on various of the lines. The submitter of the photo estimated perhaps a hundred hummingbirds at one time. If they are territorial, what accounts for this phenomenon?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 11:18AM
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mbuckmaster(7B/NC)

Males are territorial. If you look closely at the picture, you'll see that the hummers are mostly females. The few males have given up trying to defend these feeders--there's strength in numbers, ladies! =)

By the way, I love that magazine.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 3:58PM
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hummersteve

Hi durt grrl--- Its pretty much their nature especially when their numbers are small, only in areas where there lots of hummers do you see them share at all. But like Im sure has been mentioned in this thread you can separate the feeders one in front , one in back , possibly a window feeder and another feeder way out in the yard. Anyway have fun with it , they are some amazing creatures that I never tire of, since most of us in the east half of the country only have them for a short time of the year.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 12:25AM
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jawa13

Have you ever seen two hummingbird (presumabaly0 a male and female, sharing the same perch on a feeder and takign turn to drink from the same port?

I thought this is very unusual.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 6:42PM
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andistar53

I just put up a feeder a few days ago and it seems as though two small hummingbirds have taken to guarding it. They are so brave that as I went to fix the twine hanging it up, one darted straight towards me and sat down on the feeder as I had my hand on it. It's quite amazing to watch them though, because you can sit right close to them and they will still feed.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 11:25PM
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rob_a(9)

As I am typing this, I have two females, one perched on a feeder but not feeding, another perched four feet away on a feeder mount. It's been a good five to seven minutes and they are still there. Not bothering each other.
I usually have a huge battle going on. Up to three fighting at a time. I think they are tired! LOL

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 7:55PM
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rob_a(9)

Dirtgirl, the saddest thing I have seen at my feeders was last year when a juvi that could barely fly came to my balcony feeders. She flew with her body straight up and down and slow instead of horizontal and fast like grown hummers.
She pecked around looking for the feeder port, but didn't find it before the dominant hummer chased her back to her tree. She came back later and again was chased away.
By then I was getting p___ed. So I sat in a lawn chair and waved away all the other hummers waiting for her to come back, but I never saw her again.
It's just natures way, but I hope she made it ok.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 8:37PM
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homerpa(6)

Many times what you think is a female is really an young male (only way to tell w/ out catching one is get a real close look or--in my case--zoom in on a pic and see a red feather on the neck). This particular youngster has chased away the adult male that once owned the yard, chases other birds, and has even tried to intimidate me on a few occasions. Once he even tried a sneak attack by buzzing to my left ear from behind then hoovering inches away-- i just turned and looked right at him. Also, messing w/ the feeder while he's watching from his tree brings us face to face. Very Cool!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 7:12AM
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homerpa(6)

Here's the King; u can see the single, red gorget feather clearly:

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 7:47AM
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jay733

Yeah, the key thing is having multiple feeders up if you want to attract more than maybe 2 hummers.

I have them separated so that it's hard for one that is feeding to see the others. I bought the mini zingers because I don't get a swarm at one feeder. Even last season when I had a 4 port feeder, one ruled it, so I just have mini zingers and spread them around.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 1:04AM
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glad2garden(5, Chicopee, Mass)

Jay733, that's a good idea about the mini zingers. I think I'll try that trick in the spring!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 7:31AM
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nanaboo(z8BRLA)

I also have 3 mini zingers at windows. No perch,but female hummer perches on top!
Fun to watch.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 12:23PM
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starsrhappi_att_net

I am sure happy to learn that this is "normal" behavior. I have two 10 station feeders placed about 6 ft apart on my back porch. One of the feeders needs filling everyday while the other just sits with little action. I was able to watch closely this morning as one fat little red necked hummer monopolized the one feeder and chased the others away. I even tried switching the feeders to see what would happen but it made no difference. Our temperatures
have been hovering in the 35-45 area for daytime and in the low 20's at night. I worry that they all have enough to eat as there are NO flowering plants now. But what entertainment they provide!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2011 at 5:29PM
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ctreeteac(Zone 8b; rain-spewing Oregon)

Our Rufous are the known jerks here (in the Pacific Northwest), but in recent years, the Anna's, which we've had year-round for three or four years, have gotten pretty out of hand too. You're lucky if you've got just one bully, because I have a pair of Anna's hummmers that together try to control the neighborhood. You'll see them eat together and sit together in the trees, and then they'll seemingly split up, with one dominating the feeders on one side of the house and the other in the other yard, chasing off any intruders. We originally had five feeders in the back yard, but because of the fighting, we added four to the other side of the house... it worked till now! Ahaha. It's common. Though I don't know how common it is to have a married couple as mean as the two little creeps we have at the moment. They chase off any and all other hummingbirds, and they harass regular birds that are minding their own business and are nowhere near the hummer feeders. Squirrels are even victims of the bullying. I look forward to when the Roufous will arrive around March; they should put the jerks in their place. :) Like happistar 9, I only worry right now because it's winter and we don't have aaaany flowers in bloom.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 11:35PM
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ellen218(8/SC)

Ours are all gone for the winter now, but we got a kick out of watching "the mayor" as we named him, who'd sit on the top of the feeder and chase the heck out of anyone who approached.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 4:44PM
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Poncy1

I've read all the posts about an aggressive/territorial Hummingbirds. Mine is a grown male ruby red throat. Since he's hurting the other hummers, I my decided to temporary take my feeder down. I live in an apartment so I don't have room for a lot of feeders. I had two up for a while but the birds didn't like the new one so I took it down after a month. So far the aggressive male is still up in the tree lying in wait. I miss all the hummingbirds I had in early spring. I had on after another and was making sugar water weekly. With Buzz (I named him) being selfish the food would get old and I was changing it weekly. At this point I'm I'm going to leave the feeder down and wait it out. I'm curious to see what happens.(If buzz leaves) I miss my hummers, but I was only watching Buzz, the ruby red throat attack and hurt all the other hungry birds. Any opinions on this tactic? Thanks

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 5:53PM
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mrsbird

Poncy1:
Why would you take down the feeder, when this hummer is just doing what a hummer does? Hummers don't try to actually hurt one another, they just are trying to scare off any competitors for their food source. If you take down the feeder you are not only depriving him a treat, but yourself as well of enjoying seeing them. I have had feeders for several years now and yes they chase each other, but I have never had a fatality or a wounded one. Also hummingbirds remember their food sources year to year..so even though you took it down..chances are he will be back. 1 is better than none.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 6:47PM
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mrsbird

Poncy1:
Why would you take down the feeder, when this hummer is just doing what a hummer does? Hummers don't try to actually hurt one another, they just are trying to scare off any competitors for their food source. If you take down the feeder you are not only depriving him a treat, but yourself as well of enjoying seeing them. I have had feeders for several years now and yes they chase each other, but I have never had a fatality or a wounded one. Also hummingbirds remember their food sources year to year..so even though you took it down..chances are he will be back. 1 is better than none.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2013 at 6:44PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

I agree with MrsBird-- leave the feeder up. What you are seeing is nature's way for hummers (and many other birds, too). If you didn't have that male dominating, you'd still have one that tried to chase the others away.

Taking it down isn't helping the other hummers find food, it is just depiriving the one you are thinking of as mean and hurtful, but is actually just being a normal hummingbird.

All the birds you had in spring might have been migrating. They'll likely be back on their way south in the fall and you're depriving them as well.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 2:15AM
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