Saturday, December 19, 2015

Hummingbird Wars

At warp speed, hummingbirds do battle daily...Star Wars on the smallest scale.

A male Anna's Hummingbird watches from his treetop perch. He claims ownership of our backyard as his territory and he watches over it closely.

He doesn't like trespassers.

He scans the comings and goings of other hummingbirds who stop or pass too slowly, persuading them to leave before they get hurt.

His weapons are a swordlike bill and an awesome-hot helmut.

He controls his territory with all-out frontal attacks and a take no prisoners attitude.

This Broad-billed Hummingbird was one bird who lingered too long.

He received a high speed escort to anywhere else but here.

In this case the tresspasser escaped to a tree in the front yard, well away from the food at the backyard.

His only retort to this rude treatment was delivered after the fact.

This Costa's Hummingbird was similarly encouraged to leave, but the odds were more even here. The Costa's Hummingbird is capable of standing his ground against the Anna's Hummingbird, resulting in a begrudging agreement to share opposite sides of the feeder.

He's similarly adorned with an fabulous purple helmut and long gorgets, adding a dash of flare and fierceness to his look.

This first-year male Anna's Hummingbird doesn't stand a chance against the older male of his own kind. He takes flight at first sight of an attack.

He is just now sprouting the weapons he needs to defend a territory and attract a female.

Defending a territory takes a lot of energy...nectar.

Plain sugar water provides energy in a 4 to 1 ratio.

Even though I provide plenty of nectar, there seems to be a natural aversion to sharing this wealth of food.

It's a winner takes all world and the strong survive.

Aggression seems so unnecessary to an outsider, but nature plays by its own rules.

As the undisputed master of arial acrobatics, hummingbirds enforce their rules. Weighing in at only a nickel's weight, they maintain the smallest of no-fly zones. With landing gear extended, the male Anna's flutters into the treetop to resume the watch for challengers...whether real or imagined.


Credit: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds