Thursday, July 31, 2008
Those of you who have one or more hummingbird feeders have probably seen some odd behavior among feathered brethren at the feeder.
These feeders don’t only draw hummingbirds, they draw wasps, purple finches, bees, little tiny things I don’t what are and all irritate the stew out of the hummingbirds. The hummingbirds come in one or several at a time, settle to feed and here comes a finch, 10 times their size. So, they have to fly off in fear and wait ’til the big bird gets done. There’s one brave little hummingbird who will buzz the finch until it finally flies off. Think he’s the same one who will feed on the other side of the feeder if he can’t drive off the finch. He flares his wings and peers around the neck of the bottle to be sure where the enemy is but he stays and feeds. Good boy!
Now, the wasps are a whole ’nother ball game. They are as aerially flexible as the hummingbirds and it’s hilarious to watch the acrobatics as they jockey for a mutually agreeable position on the feeder. It’s up, down and around and occasionally a shocking face-to-face which scares both of them so that they don’t come back to feed for at least 30 seconds. Then, they cautiously fly in on opposite sides, land delicately and feed, stretching their necks to keep an eye on each other. Yes, a wasp can move its head from side to side.
Hummingbirds are quick studies. I sit on our screened porch where the feeders are hung just outside. When the finches land on the feeders I slap my feet loudly on the floor which scares the finches away. The hummingbirds have quickly figured out that the sound means they can come to the feeder without the finches in the way. Many times the finches land while the hummingbirds are feeding, I slap the feet, scares off everybody but the hummingbirds are back like a shot.
Just today there were six hummingbirds around the one feeder, so I put out another as it seemed more fighting than feeding was going on. After a few hours everybody settled down and there were four little birds peacefully sipping on one feeder. Of course, they were females, always gentle and sharing ladies. The males are aggressive and territorial and spend more time guarding the feeder and fighting than eating. Don’t know how they survive. If females ran the world, etc.!
Lest you think I don’t like the little finches, I do. Just below the hummingbird feeder is a marble rock area where two large trays hold water for bird baths. The finches look so big on the hummingbird feeders but look so small and thin on the edge of the trays when they are ready to jump in for a bath. They are really skinny little things and I feel guilty denying them the sweet hummingbird water, although I don’t know how they get their tongues into the holes to lap up.
They must do it somehow because the water level goes down perceptibly every day.
This little slice of bird and insect life is so interesting and teaches me something new every day. It’s the little things in life that are most rewarding and give peace to our souls and quiet to our minds.
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