Hummingbird wars at the feeder

Hummingbirds are tiny little things. The ones we see around here (which are mainly black-chinned hummingbirds, we think) weigh about 3 grams; less than a marshmallow. However, their diminutive size seems to have absolutely no impact on their enthusiasm for starting a fight, and this past summer we witnessed countless wars at a feeder that hangs outside one of our kitchen windows.

The feeder could easily accommodate half a dozen birds, and there is (care of us) an endless supply of nectar, but that seems to have no impact on the hummingbirds’ intensely competitive behavior. A bird at the feeder often attracted the attention of another, who would zoom in to attack.

The hummingbirds’ aerial jousting matches are best observed in slow motion, so we’ve inserted a slo-mo version of each clip after the real-time version so you can really see what’s going on – the video shows the birds banking, diving, and even flying on their backs. When we play their battles at actual speed the birds are just a blur; a hummingbird on the warpath moves faster than the human eye and brain can see.



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