What in the world gives her the gumption?

ditasSeptember 2, 2013

Please educate me ~ what in the world could this itty-bitty Ms Speedy, even think she can single-handedly fend her claim on a *Cafe* she so guards w/ her might?

Could she posses some poisoned darts she can squirt (w/ her, so pliable a bill) at those seemingly giant Finches, Wrens, Swallows & even wasps that come close to her claimed (legal property, according to me) or some super power they are so weary of?

Please, please I dearly wish to know!!!

TIA for getting educated!

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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Hi, Ditas. Several books I read on hummingbirds say they are just plain aggressive, both to each other and to anyone else that tries to interfere with them. Not that predators never get hold of them, but that would be more by stealth I guess.

If you like I'll try to find the name of the book(s) that made reference to this. They are reported to have attacked and chased off jays, starlings, owls, even hawks. They rely on their speed and ferocity dive bombing and buzzing adversaries.

Have you ever been divebombed by a bluejay defending a nest? I've seen jays chase off cats many times with divebombing. And yes, they've chased me off too. It's terrifying to have something coming at your face so fast. Hummers divebomb from as high as 45 feet and end their run a few inches away from their target. I'd leave, too :)

I studied animal behavior, and leaving humans out of it, in nature animals do a lot of threatening but try not to have to actually fight. The threats decide who has the strongest will to win or the most physical strength, and the weaker one often gives in before an actual fight is necessary. The reason for this is simple-- a wounded animal is likely to die either of his wounds, starvation because he can't hunt, or become the easy victim of a predator.

So actual fighting is much less likely in nature than the animal TV shows would have us believe. Most "fighting" is done with threats.

Since many creatures will back away from a persistant, intense, ferocious, highly aggressive threat, the hummer amazingly is able to chase off these much larger creatures, even real killers like hawks. Don't forget they can divebomb at over 60 miles per hour.

The *Wild Bird Guides: Ruby Throated Hummingbird* says that in hummers, individual differences in aggressiveness in both males and females are genetic, and the most ferocious of both sexes will become the dominant ones and get the best territories and the best opportunities to mate.

Right now in my back yard Little Fat Guy is practicing his meanness chasing two other juveniles around all day, practicing to be the baddest guy on the block next year, I guess.

I saw LFG eating one day when a second juvie tried to join him at the feeder. He hovered up 8 inches or so to the L-bracket holding the feeder, stuck his neck forward and hovered there moving his wings a thousand miles an hour. You could see it was an aggressive display. The intruder chickened out and left and LFG then calmly went back to eating.

I wish they weren't quite so mean, but this is nature's way for them, so I accept it.

Hope this is what you were looking for.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 10:57PM
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WOW mehitabel ~ Thank you for taking the time passing your acquired knowledge (from books you have) & personal observations on behavior of your (I assume, beloved) LFG!!! Gave me such fun & laughter!!!

All I have is my Birds of Iowa Field Guide, & J. Yow's The armchair Birder, have watched Cornell Univ & PBS Documentaries on Hummies & do a great deal of Googling when curious! My dream is someday be able to offer my hand w/ syrup just as the guests at a B&B in Alaska w/ their migrant Roufus, no less!

I'm a child of WWII ~ is why am familiar w/ dive-bombing & air-dog-fights (Kamakasi pilot style) & heard of Red Baron of WWI from my Dad. I have watched (Cornell U) C.Clark & colleagues' studies on the piercing sound, these Itty-bitty Jewels make in dive-bombing-courtship-events (truly awesome) I have not yet heard our li'l summer residents make such sound tho am quite familiar w/ their crystaline chirps & hummms/buzzz at times just whizzz by my ears or hovering above as I patsy about their cafes.

I'll look forward to titles of books worth owning that you own & ran across!

Again many thanks!!!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 1:27PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Hi again, Ditas. I bought four books, and you certainly don't need all of them. There's a lot of redundancy from book to book, and lots of pictures. A lot depends on how much you want to spend on books vs all the other uses for money we all have, so I'll rank order them:

1. I thought the very best summary of information is the Wild Bird Guide on Ruby Throats (which are the hummers I think you have anyway). It's a small book, 78 pages, and pictures for illustration of the text only. But nice pictures nevertheless.

Sometimes more words just clutter things up anyway.

There were two books with informational value that I would say are tied for #2. Which of these two books you might enjoy more would depend on your purpose. If I was buying only one of these I would probably go for Burton, if only because other people could also enjoy it.

2. Tied for #2 *The World of the Hummingbird* by Robert Burton. More of a coffee-table book, lots of pictures of all kinds of hummers, but also good information. This is the book that referred to their attacking larger creatures:

p. 129 talking about loss of babies because of nest predation: "Nest destruction occurs despite valiant attempts at defense by the parent. Some hummingbirds merely scold the robbers, but others actively attack and buffet them with their wings, fearlessly mobbing owls, squirrels, eagles, and humans".

Sorry, I remembered "hawks" but it was "eagles". Still killers and very big.

Also a 2. *The Ruby-throated Hummingbird* by June Osborne. If you're not a book person, you might not want this. I enjoyed it, but my idea of fun is a free evening and a new book.

There were some general things about hummers, different kinds, and then the saga of a female she discovered building a nest in a bird park in Texas, and how she followed the nest building, hatching, rearing and fledging the young. There was also a chapter on a "typical" day in the life of a male, a chapter on migration, then a couple of chapters on banding and that sort of thing that didn't interest me much.

#4 was a picture book, lovely pictures, but little new information value.

If you don't buy a lot of books, here's a hint to getting good books cheap: look at the used books first, the seller grades them and describes the condition "Very good--like new" usually is like new, and I look at used books for the best one selling for less than the new ones.

BTW I'm a WWII child, too. And I used to be a teacher in case you hadn't figured that out :D

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 4:55PM
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Wow once more! I figured as much and what's more I felt we were cut out of a similar fabric ~ oh, perhaps a bit less "Elements of Style" conscious in my old-genarian stage!!!

Thank you mehitabel ~ for this quite comprehensive review of your Hummer books. I think it was at *Wildbirds Unlimited* store for supplies, where I may have fingered thru Osborne's however, opted on yet another Hummm feeder!!! I love her book's journal feel since I'm an avid garden journal keeper.

R. Burton's p. 129 made me sad once more, thinking of my pic-documented *A Very Sad Event*, I think I'll pick him up. (My hubby is a regular at our local *Used Bookstore* I didn't even think to have him look for any.)

Since RTHs are all my summer guests here so far, I'd pehaps concentrate on learning more about them! They seem to be increasing in population since I started inviting them w/ feeders a few years back, depite the plentiful blossoms (miniscule bugs included) they find/need in this piece of soil.

So far I've been availing myself of what I find Googling on my additional interests, as a natural consequence of a *dirt digging* hobby but books in my hand can never be completely replaced by the popular Nook Tablet the kids got me!

Again many thanks co-WWII child & I as well, was a teacher!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 12:35AM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Hey, ditas, make it an even three! I was an avid dirt gardener for years, never happier than with hands and knees coated with dirt. Not enough energy now to actually do it any more. But I still love every leaf and flower.

I think Wild Bird Unltd charges a lot more for books than other places. I got a Wild Bird Guide to Black Cap Chickadees that had a Wild Bird Unltd sticker on the back for $28.95. Waaaay too much for such a tiny book!

I got it used thru Amazon for a whole lot less, probably half, because I try to buy under $15 when I can. It's perfect except for a tiny dent on the upper right corner the size of your little-finger nail.

Check out Amazon for any books you want, then see if they are offering it used. Amzn acts as a clearing house for used booksellers all over the country, and used prices are usually lower than new unless it's a really rare book. You pay postage, but you can choose your price, and hardly ever have to pay nearly $30 + tax unless it's a big book with lots of expensive graphs or charts.

Nice meeting you :)

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 10:43AM
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Education runs in our family on both sides ~ not bad huh?!

Oh, I should have mentioned living in St Louis on our 1st 6 years after crossing the big pond in late '60s ~ does that count as the 4th thread woven in that *similar-fabric* connection? University City, Wash U, & how about love of The Muny Opera, the Cards" (L Brock & B Gibson), Busch Stadium, St Louis Cathedral, Barnes Hosp etc etc even Phyllis Diller any threads on those? Sorry got carried away ~ fond mem'ries, you see!!!

I do frequent Amazon & certainly opt for less expensive used described as *like new* what's more reviews are available to boot!!!

I haven't been in this Hummer forum 'til just now ~ Hydrangea, Rose, Clem & Butterfly Garden forums were where I frequented. Running out of real estate for those passions & some health events in the past 3 years kept me less active in GW. Growing curiosities & new obssesions for these flying bitty jewels + interesting events of late brought me chiming in! How about you ~ been here long?

I enjoy our learning tete a tete here ~ 'hope you do too!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 1:07PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Wow,Ditas, your credentials as a St Louisan are perfect!

We came here in 68 right after my son was born. Of course we're still here. Where did you come from ("crossing the big pond"). If you say Britain I'll fall off my chair-- my husband was born in Liverpool.

Re Garden Web, when I first had to give up gardening (you can't dig without two good knees) I started to garden in pots and frequented the Fragrant forum. Then I found I didn't really want to lug 14" clay pots around, and many fragrants are really tropical trees that are 8' in one season or certainly in two. Too much *plant* to house indoors all winter.

So I went to orchids, the Orchid Forum. But I coveted them too much, and found I was too busy for so many. And the winters are even longer for orchids. Just got tired of the mess of plants indoors, so here I am watching Mean, Meaner and Meanest chase each other around my yard :).

Yes, I've enjoyed chatting with you, too. Don't forget! Where "across the pond?"

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 10:42PM
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Nope mehitabel, sorry, no connection w/ Liverpool tho am a Masterpiece buff & have a collection of those oldies on DVDs, Bks of J Austen, Brontes, G Elliot etc & certainly loved the Bloomsbury gang of intellectuals triggered by my fascination w/ V Woolfe, EM Forster, Sackville-West & the older Royalties! Nope, the Pacific Ocean was the big pond I crossed w/ 2 sons via San Francisco to St Lou. My hubby was a year ahead training (Wash U)! We loved our St Louis years of challenges! We still have a few friends from those days there!

No connection w/ Orchids either, except these 2 Phalaen gifts of 2 yrs ago I'm managing & the only 1 left from (like you) used to indoor gardening days, a Christmas Cactus now turning into Bonsai, me thinks!!!

Fortunately I'm blest, to still be able to dirt-dig (my middle name) & run my red & black, grass-mulching buddy after a heart-stent Christmas wk 2011(my hubby had an MI, eve of Christmas last)!!! No, we're not starting a tradition!!! LOL

Reclaimed my boys' soccer-kicking-golf-putting-etc field & my girl's sand-box & swing sites after moving to real sports fields & dance floors ~ started my out-door dirt digging spree, w/ Roses, Butterfly-garden & herbs, surely!

After my dau's still-born-1st-child in '01 I created *In this Piece of Soil Under Iowa Skies: Angels are Remembered* islands of blooming plants. A Hydrangea bush for the succeeding years! Nearly 50 Angels are remembered for the Grandparents, in the Group I belonged! 2011 was the last bush for the Angels (real est got tight) I returned to Roses & Clems ~ now it's just maintaining them!!!

Sorry got carried away again. FWIW thanks for your patience!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 1:03AM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

I've enjoyed the chat, ditas. Hope we'll see each other often here.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 11:49AM
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