Bird behaviour is often a mystery to humans who have not taken time to understand the birds. When it comes to puzzles, none is more eye-catching than the hummingbird.
From their incredible flight to their playfulness, these birds will get you curious. Any bird watcher or a keen person near hummingbirds must have noticed that they are constantly chasing each other.
You could be curious about this, and you want to know what it is all about. Is it just a game, or is it more? Let us take a better look;
Why Do Hummingbirds Chase Each Other?
There are several reasons for this, the main one being territorial aggression. Males are often chasing other birds out of their territories that have a lot of nectar. These are often violent chases that can be fatal.
Females chase other birds or males away from their domain to protect their chicks. Males also chase each other to impress the females to get a chance to mate with them. At times, this chasing is playful since it is a courtship ritual between the birds.
Dealing With Aggression And Territorial Behavior In Hummingbirds
Some species of hummingbird like the ruby-throated get particularly aggressive during the mating season.
They mark off a piece of land and protect it fiercely as they try to mate with as many females as they can to pass their DNA.
If you have ever hung a hummingbird feeder, you must have noticed that hummingbirds are very aggressive.
A hummingbird can memorize a feeder’s location and claim it. They will protect it and chase any other birds that come near it.
Hummingbirds are migratory, so they are aggressive to be able to claim new territories as they move.
This aggression leads to chases, and at times it can get fatal. This is because hummingbirds are fiercely territorial, and they protect their food source.
If you have just one feeder or have only two close to each other, you might have a problem. This is because one bird can sit around both feeders and chase any others that come close.
To prevent such a situation, you need to be more thoughtful about how you hang your feeders. To attract more birds, you need to take advantage of their territorial nature.
Arrange the feeders in separate house areas with a distance between them so one bird can’t claim all of them. You can put them in such a way that there is no line of sight from one feeder to another.
You will make sure that a hummingbird can only feed at one spot leaving the others open for more birds.
Putting several feeders in a cluster will not help since one bird can still chase all others away to protect the food.
Another way to reduce aggression in hummingbirds is by planting hummingbird-friendly flowers around the feeders. These flowers will get them to spread out more and share the available feeders.
Ensure there is a consistent stream of food for the birds. Hummingbirds are habitual, and they know where there is a lot of food.
If the birds know that they will be fed despite their numbers, they will be more willing to tolerate each other around feeders.
Provide some cover and perches for the birds near the feeders. Having the feeder installed near some trees will give the birds a place to perch other than the feeder itself.
The increase of options will increase their tolerance towards each other. Females will lay their eggs far away from each other and males to prevent violent interactions.
The key to reducing aggression is giving them space. You will have a peaceful and beautiful scene if you handle everything correctly.
The Evolution Of Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds are extreme when it comes to their adaptation to feeding on nectar. They can flap their wings faster than any other bird, and theirs is the second-fastest metabolism of all birds.
They have some species being among the smallest vertebrates on the planet. All these extraordinary features imply that they have had an excellent evolutionary line.
Hummingbirds are among the oldest nectar-feeding birds, and they have had over 40 million years to perfect their lifestyle that is almost exclusively nectar-based.
This time and evolutionary line have allowed them to gain abilities that are outstanding among birds.
Hummingbirds belong to a family of Apodiformes, which has acrobatic insectivorous birds such as swifts.
Most species of birds are seen hunting insects as well as feeding on nectar. They have feet that are small and have limited functions.
Hummingbirds can’t even walk; they can only shuffle or perch. They traded walking for lightweight bodies that allow them to fly better.
Their wings are also adapted, and they have a sole humerus that articulates with a relatively large wing.
This arrangement makes it easy for the birds to rotate their wings which allows for a better flight. These quick maneuvers allow them to hover and quickly snatch insects out of the air.
Hummingbirds and swifts share an ancestry, but swifts broke away and became more insectivorous.
Drinking nectar offers many advantages to Hummingbirds since it offers a rich source of nutrition that does not need to be hunted down.
Flowers depend on hummingbirds for pollination; thus, they evolved with the birds to make their feeding easier.
This is seen in some species of hummingbirds being better adapted to feeding on specific flowers than others.
These slight variations allow several species to live in the same area without competing for food. Hovering requires a tremendous amount of energy hence hummingbirds need a lot of food in short periods to keep up with the energy use.
They adapted by reducing their general body size. By being small with relatively larger wings, they can increase their efficiency, thus saving some energy.
They have also evolved a quick metabolism to process the nectar fast enough to keep up with their needs.
Their fast metabolism also allows them to urinate frequently. This is because nectar could weigh them down due to its high water content.
Years of evolution have refined these birds to make them into the majestic and complex birds we know today.
Plants That Attract Hummingbirds
An effective way to reduce aggression in hummingbirds is planting flowers that the birds like. These flowers are both beautiful and an additional food source; thus, they will work well in calming your visitors. Here are some flowers to plant for hummingbirds;
They are also called hummingbird mint, which should give you an idea of their relationship. They come in various leaf and flower colours that will attract the attention of any passing hummingbird.
They have a trumpet shape which hummingbirds are well adapted to feeding on. You can add Agastaches to the landscape or planters since they are perennial and easy to care for.
2. Orange carpet
These are green plants with orange-red trumpet-like flowers. They spread on the landscape and produce a lot of flowers.
These will work well because hummingbirds are particularly attracted to yellow or colours close to it like orange.
An abundance of flowers will attract insects and give the birds more food and space to feed, thus reducing the violence.
These flowers bloom from summer all the way to winter, making sure that there are guests at your home all season.
3. Bee Balm
They produce a reddish flower that is full of nectar. This is a good thing since hummingbirds love the color red and nectar. These are flowers that will attract the birds and keep them coming back every day.
Once they bloom in summer, these flowers will persist until the frost of winter hits. This will ensure you have birds until they migrate at the end of their season.
4. Butterfly Bush
This is another plant that hummingbirds love and is easy to maintain. They don’t need a lot of water or maintenance, and once they start blooming, they will produce flowers till the end of the season.
As a general guide, you can plant red and yellow flowers since hummingbirds are more attracted to these bright colours.
The flowers should ideally be trumpet-shaped to make it easy for the hummingbirds to feed on the nectar.
Hummingbirds constantly fight to keep their territories. Males do it for feeding space and females while females do it to protect their nests and young.
This means that some species cannot stay together in a small area or with limited food reserves. To reduce the fighting among hummingbirds in your home, you should help them create territories.
Place the feeders far apart to make sure one bird cannot dominate more than one feeder. You can also plant flowers and place feeders near trees to give the birds more room.
Hummingbirds have gone through millions of years of evolution to become as sophisticated as they are today.
They are a true sentiment of just how majestic nature can get, and we should do all we can to ensure their survival.