Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dogfight at the Bird Feeder

The dogfight lasted for over one half-hour.

Long enough for me to find my camera, put in a fresh battery, find the lens I needed, and get back to the kitchen door before they went away.  

Luckily, I made it in time.  The power of the camera's lens never ceases to amaze me.  

With our naked eye, these guys appear as just a blur unless they decide to perch on the feeder to take a long draught.

And that wasn't happening this day.  

The dominant female in the sky was not about to let the interloping female have any peace.

She had to be ever-vigilant as her attacker dive-bombed her time after time.

If you've never heard hummingbirds fight for territory before, it sounds just like a Jedi light-saber battle.

At one point they stayed locked together and fell from the sky, landing on the deck with a thump.  I had never seen that happen before. 

Unfortunately,  it was over and they were airborne again before my slow reflexes could catch it on "film".

The birds were either female ruby-throated hummingbirds or female black-chinned hummingbirds.  They look a lot alike and are hard to distinguish though ruby-throateds are more common at my feeder.  

That being said, I have seen black-chinned males feed here this Summer and it is migratory season so perhaps more are coming through.

They could also be immature types of either variety so I'll send the pics off to the Cornell Ornithology lab to see what they think.

I read on the Cornell site that if the bird "wags its tail" while the bill is in the feeder, it is most likely a black-chinned hummingbird.  Hmmm....these pics make me think I had a tail wagger ;)

The males all left in July; and the immatures usually follow the females who leave sometime in September.  

I just can't figure out why they would waste all of their valuable energy fighting each other when they both are leaving for the long trek to the Yucatan peninsula in just a week or so.

I suppose peace is out of reach for more species than just man.


Linda H said...

Wow! Great photos Susan! Sad that they have to fight when there is food enough for all...

Teresa in Music City said...

Wonderful pictures!!! Someday I would love to have a camera that can take those kinds of pictures. Our hummingbirds are doing the same thing - fighting for territory. We still have some males here in Tennessee. But yesterday I noticed only one male and the rest are females and juveniles. They are so much fun to watch :*)

Nana said...

Great, great pics!!!


Colorado Stitcher said...

GREAT picturs, thanks for sharing. All I can say is you must make a mean sugar nectar!

Rachel said...

You got a cracking view of them, whatever they turn out to have been!

Mary Ann said...

Great photos. We've had the same type of activity this last week. We have a HUGE trumpet vine over a double trellis. Tons of blossoms yet three hummingbirds fight over them on and off. There is usually one more dominant than the others. They are like spitfires flashing about. Impossible to catch them on film. One of them is extremely aggressive even to us and comes over and gives us the "eye"...LOL

gracie said...

Wonderful pictures. Our hummers do not leave AZ..they fight all the time and we have 2 feeders with multiple ports! They are very territorial.

Arts and Crafts said...

Susan, what amazing photographs, it's wonderful watching nature do it's thing..... Thanks so much for sharing.

Cari said...

I love hummingbirds !! Thanks for sharing your fabulous pictures. My dear neighbor has a beautiful bush with red blooms planted right outside my sewing room window. I often catch a glimpse of these quick little creatures. I love nature.

Suztats said...

Wonderful pics, Susan! I enjoy the hummers' antics at my feeder all summer long. I still have some here.....not long before they leave for warmer climes.

Kathy said...

I never realized how territorial hummers are until we put feeders on our balcony in Santa Clara, CA. Gosh, do they bicker! We had a nest in the tree just outside and another in a hanging basket on the patio, so I had to be sure to keep those feeders FULL at all times. On the other hand, the females would occasionally perch on me while waiting for the feeders to be hung back up, which was thrilling every time it happened.
Thanks for the photos: they brought back some great memories.

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Great Hummer shots! We watch this war daily. I can't tell the males from females. Sometimes one comes to the feeder then lands in the maple to do guard duty. When the next one lands on the feeder, the battle begins. Fun to watch. They zoom right by our faces! I'm not good enough with the camera to catch them in flight. Thanks for sharing your pics.
xx, Carol

Judy S. said...

Sounds like you need to rename your feeder the OK Corral? Great photos, Susan. Thanks for sharing them.

coral-seas said...

Stunning photographs, Susan! What lenses were you using?

How lucky you are to have humming birds come to the feeder. But I must not grumble, I get a great selection of birds come to the feeder in my garden :-)

Catherine said...

Fantastic photos!

Thearica said...

I have sat for an hour or so on my porch with camera in hand trying to catch these swift beauties! When they fly above your head it sounds like a jet coming in... Scares me every time. lol

Hélène said...

Great pictures ! And I'm happy to know about the sound of hummingbird fighting ! :)

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