Hummingbird feeder wars take place daily!
It can be entertaining to watch the battle ensue. Or it can be heart breaking when you see one bird try so hard to feed, but to no avail.
It can even result in injury, which is not what we had in mind when hanging our nectar feeder.
When you think about it nature has this inherent ownership about territory which provides their food. Makes sense doesn’t it?
Everybody wants to protect their food source, we do too!
Males also fight for their space for mating rights. Female Hummers will guard their nest area with great gusto.
So there is lots of incentive all round to protect their space by sending off perceived intruders.
This video shows two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds having a war, a common site for many of us.
(Please note the manmade Hummer perch that has been attached to the pole where the feeder is hanging. It shows up at the beginning and end of the video. Hummers love to perch!)
Hummingbirds though, have such an adamant, aggressive method that sometimes makes us wish we could solve this constant battle.
They certainly noticed and believed in the power of this mighty, tiny feathered creature!
So if we think we are going to tame down Hummingbird feeder wars with it’s long standing history as a gladiator, we need to think again.
That’s the long and short of it.
We can stop total domination.
It is part of creature nature to defend it's food source so we cannot, and honestly, do not want to take that away.
We love and appreciate these little birds too much to want to change them.
Some species may show more aggression than others, but we can help to calm things down at the feeding troughs.
Richard Day a fulltime nature photographer who has had photos appear in Audubon, Birder's World, Sierra Club, National Geographic, National Wildlife, and others, along with his wife Susan, found a solution to Hummingbird feeder wars.
Susan is considered a backyard bird and habitat expert, a Master Gardener and they both are involved in too many endeavors to list here. (Read more about the Day’s here.)
In 2000 while researching a book Susan co-authored, The Wildlife Gardener’s Guide to Hummingbirds & Songbirds From the Tropics, she met Bob Sargent, a long-time bird bander, along with his wife Martha.
Bob is founder of the Hummer/Bird Study Group, and author of Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, a Wild Bird Guide.
Bob and his wife Martha discovered the solution to stopping Hummingbird feeder wars.
1. More, much more Hummers visiting.
2. Prevents one Hummer from owning the feeders.
This is a simple solution. But it does come with a big, BUT.
You must commit to maintaining, cleaning and refilling many feeders with fresh syrup as often as is necessary.
1. Hanging feeders in as much shade as possible will help the syrup last longer before it needs changing.
2. And shade will keep the bees down as they don’t like to eat in shade, whereas Hummers prefer it.
If the above method of having dozens of feeders seems too daunting for you because of the upkeep to maintain so many feeders try this next strategy for stopping Hummingbird feeder wars.
This is a similar plan but will not require nearly as many feeders.
It will be difficult to bring peace to your Hummingbird feeding area
with only one feeder. In a possessive bird’s mind one feeder makes it
vital for them to protect it. They will not be able to hold themselves
1. Add one or two more feeders 5-10 feet apart from your original one.
2. Try to observe where the most aggressive Hummer perches to watch his domain. This is easier to spot than you might think. Watch your feeder and look for the direction that the bird flies in from. Then, in that direction search to spot a bare branch that sticks out from the rest, on a tree or bush, or a hook or pole that is exposed a little to allow good viewing of your outdoor space. Then when it is not at your feeder protecting it, observe whether the bird is sitting in one of those possible locations you saw.
3. Next decide on an area where the aggressor will not be able to see another possible feeding station from it’s perch. If you cannot find a suitable location for a second feeding station so that it cannot be seen from the perch of the aggressor...
4. Then remove the perch. The feisty bird will find another one on it’s own. Or you could help it out by erecting one with a branch 2-3 feet long, or mounting a hook, somewhere that the second feeding station is not visible.
5. Setup the second feeding station as soon as possible, with as many feeders as you can maintain, 2-3 at minimum.
Hanging small clusters of feeders in different locations in your
yard where a perched Hummingbird cannot see all the feeders will help to calm Hummingbird feeder wars.