This week a wonderful article about hummingbirds appears on Slate. For those of you unable to concentrate long enough to read this excellent piece, I will summarize:
Aztec origin myths aside, hummingbirds really are badasses. And there’s a biological reason why: Their lives depend on it.
The information in the piece only confirmed my patio observations. Last Sunday, I noticed that my feeder was empty aside from some dead ants. I noticed because a hummingbird hovered at it, then swooped by me. I know he wanted to tell me to get off my ass and get nectar out there.
So I did.
We then had at least 5 birds trying to make our feeder their territory. There may be more; they do not stay still to make counting (or photographing) easy, and several of them are the same type of bird.
I have identified the dominant bird of the past 4 days, shown to the right.
He is not the largest bird in the group, but he has successfully defended his quart of nectar. He spends much time perched on the feeder, sipping leisurely. If another bird approaches the spouts, he chases them off vigorously. At other times, he sits in a rosebush (just out of the photo frame to the left) and then ambushes the intruder.
Despite his success thus far, he is not my favorite hummer in the yard, That title goes to the clever bird shown in the next photo.
Clever bird (to the left of the support pole) waits until King of the Feeder chases off an interloper. He then swoops in and feeds while the King is occupied. He gets chased off eventually, but only after a meal.
Of course, there are a couple of hummers that look like this guy, so they could be taking turns.
By yesterday, the King seemed to be tiring. He waited until intruders tried to drink, rather than attacking them as they approached the feeder. He also has done less defending from the rose bush, spending most time perched on the feeder itself.
These little guys are beautiful and fierce. Unless unicorns or dragons show up in the backyard, these little dudes will be the main show.