How to stop Hummingbird feeder wars!
Hummingbird Feeder Wars
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.
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!)
Are Hummers Equiped for Battle?
- Chatter just for fights! Not all sounds come vocally either. Their tails can produce a sharp “chirp” when coming out of a dive.
- Visual displays of aggression. Gorgets and tail feathers flared to show off their colours, make them look larger and more threatening.
- Chasing at high speeds! When chasing each other speeds can reach 45 mph. However in a dive, a common aggressive tactic used by Hummers, speeds have been clocked as much as 60 mph.
- Stabbing! They come bearing the right tool for that too and use their feet for grabbing.
Hummingbirds though, have such an adamant, aggressive method that sometimes makes us wish we could solve this constant battle.
Hummingbird Feeder Wars have Warriors!
The Aztec’s god Huitzilopochtli or Hummingbird of the South or Blue Hummingbird of the Left was named thus because they believed he was conceived when his mother took a ball of Hummingbird feathers and held them to her breast.
He became enraged when he discovered that his 400 brothers and one sister were planning to kill him. So he turned on them and killed most of them instead.
This warrior god of the Aztecs was depicted as a Hummingbird or with his helmet and armour adorned with their feathers.
The Aztecs also believed that dead warriors were reincarnated as hummingbirds.
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.
Can Hummingbird Feeder Wars be Stopped?
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.
How to “Turn Down” a Dominant Bird?
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.
How to Stop Feeder Wars?
How to Stop a Bully Hummingbird?
Strategy 1: Hang Dozens of Feeders
Bob and his wife Martha discovered the solution to stopping Hummingbird feeder wars.
Hang as many nectar feeders as possible, literally dozens. This will result in 2 things:
- More, much more Hummers visiting.
- 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.
Tips to Assist in Maintaining Multiple Feeders
In certain situation’s where the temperature is above 90F/32C this calls for daily refilling, so…
- Hanging feeders in as much shade as possible will help the syrup last longer before it needs changing.
- And shade will keep the bees down as they don’t like to eat in shade, whereas Hummers prefer it.
- You can experiment with how many feeders you will need to hang, to make it impossible for one bird to dominate.
- Bob suggests that it is not necessary to completely fill all the feeders until you start to see empty ones. This will save on the amount of syrup solution you will go through.
- And I want to add, once you have an audience then you can weaken the syrup solution to one-half cup sugar to four parts water or even weaker. The Hummers won’t notice and will still show up for more! (Read more about mixing the solution at different strengths depending on the time of year.) You can read Susan’s article about this here.
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.
Steps for Calming Hummingbird Feeder Wars:
Strategy 2: Hidden Feeding Stations
How to Develop Hidden Feeding Stations
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 back.
- Add one or two more feeders 5-10 feet apart from your original one.
- 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.
- 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…
- 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.
- 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.
Try new Hummingbird feeders from this great selection!
Best Nectar Feeders & Accessories
Nectar Feeders With 1-5 Gold Star Ratings
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Antique Glass Bottle Hummingbird Feeder
My sister-in-law says her Hummers like this feeder best.
Important Hummingbird Feeder Accessories
Your Hummingbirds will love these!
Just place them in your existing bird bath and plug them in.
They come with their own pump.
- Keeping Hummingbird Nectar From Freezing in colder climates is very possible and I have some great info that will help you do this successfully.
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