Fight of the Hummingbirds
Every year my grandmother’s house is covered in hummingbirds, but only for a couple of weeks before the birds take off to their next location. Before migration, hummingbirds like to fatten up with insects and nectar, or in this case, my grandmother’s super sweet, sugar-water which they visit in the last part of August and in to early September before heading along their way. My grandmother cares for these birds as she would any guest – she has all of the southern hospitality of a true Southern Belle, so I would expect no less – by providing them with fresh sugar-water twice a day in all three of her hummingbird feeders. These guests are not so gracious, or willing to share, but they are beautiful to gaze upon on a warm, summer’s day.
When taking these pictures I realized that hummingbirds are not too shy. They are not as afraid of humans as one would expect. They were buzzing about, and in some cases, I had to duck to keep from getting my eyes poked out. Though unfriendly, I found them majestic and beautiful. I can see why my grandmother welcomes them back each year for more sugar-water. Hummingbirds, it turns out, love the nectar of flowers with more than 10% sugar and they quickly reject them otherwise. This is why they love my grandma’s feeders – it’s not too different from her southern, sweet tea, I suppose.
The picture of two hummingbirds, each on their own side of the feeder is one of my favorites with one bird peering over at the other as if to say, “Hey! What are you doing on my feeder, bird?!” Their inhospitable nature makes them ever more fascinating. First, I thought hummingbirds flew in flocks like most birds, but it turns out they do not. They migrate the same way as other birds, but do it as loners. Hummingbirds are unsocial birds, flying alone as to not call attention to predators, and because, as you may have guessed, they don’t like to share their food.
The picture of two hummingbirds in flight, one seemingly ready to charge at the other, is the reason for the name of my article. These hummingbirds are ready for a scuffle. I saw many of them beating each other up. They are very territorial. They are serious about their own space. Male hummingbirds are very aggressive and see their territories as up to a quarter acre – the greedy, little things. Females build and protect their nests, not allowing the colorful males around to keep from attracting predators. Strangely, males will attack a female they have not mated with. Once they’ve mated, the male will allow the female in to his territory.
It is comforting to note that even though the hummingbirds were seemingly attacking each other, they did not appear harmed. It turns out that hummingbirds rarely harm each other during their brawls.
Lastly, I will say that, though I’m not certain these are the same hummingbirds each year – their lifespans range from one year to five years – hummingbirds have a fantastic memory remembering year to year where feeders are located that they’ve visited in the past. Smart birds!