Hummingbird Wars


Why can’t hummingbirds live in peace? The feeder on my front porch is a war zone. After the first hummingbird – I call him Scrappy – eats, he flies over to a nearby tree and perches on a limb, trying to look invisible. When the second hummingbird arrives (I’ve named him Happy), Scrappy emerges from hiding and chases him away.

Actually, it’s more than a chase; it’s a battle royal with aerial combat that would be the envy of the most experienced fighter pilot. They should call it ‘hummingbird fighting’ instead of dog fighting.

I know that hummingbirds are territorial, but seriously, do they have to attack their own kind? Redwings will attack animals and people that come too close to their nests. I know, I wandered into redwing territory once and got a neat little cut on my head for my trespass.

Mockingbirds love to terrorize dogs and cats, as my old cat Minky would readily testify. Kingbirds will drive crows to distraction, and crows love nothing better than to spend the day dive-bombing a poor owl.

Of course, during the mating season pretty much all birds will drive away other contenders for milady’s affection. Robins get especially aggressive in the spring. Finches and wrens spend a lot of their time squabbling and scolding anything that comes near. And I can personally testify to male cardinals attacking their own image in a window.

But hummingbirds are relentless. Despite four feeding spouts on my hummingbird feeder, Scrappy vows that Happy will get not one beak-full of nectar. Meanwhile, Happy keeps coming back. I suppose he hopes that sooner or later Scrappy will be gone when he gets there.

Sad business, I say. It’s the kind of behavior you might expect from people who don’t know better. Hummingbirds should set a better example.