Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hostile Hummingbirds

I love hummingbirds and Costa Rica is a great place to see many varieties. I knew we would have hummingbirds in our yard before moving here. Sure enough, Patrick and I spotted them moving from flower to flower quite often but they were always so quick that it didn’t quite satisfy my desire to see them more often.

So in October I bought two hummingbird feeders. I purposely had Patrick place one directly outside our living room window and the other one I hung from a shepherds hook outside our bedroom window but further into the yard. I had read that hummingbirds are very territorial so I knew I had to place the feeders at least 10 feet apart.

It took a couple weeks before the first hummingbird started using the feeder located in the garden and then maybe a week after that and he was using the one in front of the living room window. Then a week or so later another larger hummingbird (almost twice as large and of a different variety) found the feeders and decided they were his (or hers). So when the smaller hummingbird would try to drink from the feeder the larger one would chase it away.

At first this was kind of funny but the chases became more violent. The birds would literally slam into one another and then the chase was on. One day while sitting in the living room, one of the hummingbirds smacked the other one into the window! We heard a thump and looked to see the hummingbird trapped between the glass and bars. He did find his way out after a several seconds as we watched in shock.

I don’t see the tiny hummingbird in our yard so much anymore but when he does show up he seems to win the battle which I love since he was here first. The larger hummingbird actually sits in a couple different trees in our yard from which he has a view of both feeders. When he sees another hummingbird at a feeder he immediately chases it away. I hate the violence but sometimes these antics can be quite amusing! Recently the large hummingbird would allow another bird to drink from the feeder while he (or she) watched and I only believe this happened because the other bird was either its mate or an offspring.

I do want to mention that I’m not worried that I am upsetting the ecosystem by having a feeder because I do still see several hummingbirds going from flower to flower. It also seems they like to eat bugs that are trapped in spider webs which I had never heard of before but Patrick and I do enjoy watching them scout for bugs.


P & K Ashland said...

Wow is that interesting. Your pictures are good. It's surprising how large that hummingbird is.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the extra hummingbird feeder! Its already up and we decided to experiment using local sugar cane extract. We're hoping to see some hummingbirds soon.