I’m on my screened porch sipping coffee and enjoying the weather. There isn’t a soul for miles, no traffic noise, someone’s rooster is crowing about a half mile off (we shot our rooster….long story). The sky is brilliant blue and the air is sweet. A single crow is cawing in the field and there’s an owl hooting from one of the oaks. Our chickens are pecking contentedly at the unmowed lawn. This is the good life. Urban dwellers can get pizza delivered. I’ve got nature.
Not two feet from me a hummingbird feeder is hanging from a cord. There are also patches of flowers and an ancient rose bush…all in bloom. There’s a screen between me and the feeder. It’s a good thing too…
…because the humming birds are having a full fledged aerial combat showdown. At least four and possibly more are going at it like Snoopy and the Red Baron. There will be a brief period of peace. Less than a minute. Then all hell will break loose.
A hummingbird will make a run at the feeder. This will cause a couple others to dive in from nowhere chattering what I assume to be death threats and songs of havoc in hummingbird language. They’ll bully the intruder away only to find a different party has slipped past the radar and is Bogarting the nectar. They’ll charge at the one on the feeder and he’ll charge right back at ’em. “Oh yeah! You and who’s army!” Which will send opposing forces into disarray. He’ll turn back to the feeder only to find his perch has been taken. While he hovers, planning his attack, a couple more will circle behind him to come up from underneath and chase him back to the trees.
Meanwhile someone else is making another run at the feeder, a couple others will drop out of the sky to fend him off, another one will slip in behind the defenders…and it starts all over again.
I like humming birds. They’re cool little guys. I love the precision of their flight. I love their energetic manner. On the other hand they engage in constant war. The only reason it’s amusing is because they’re two inches long and don’t actually kill each other. If they were the size of crows and battled so incessantly I’d have to take down the feeder and disperse the party.
Everyone else is inside watching TV. TV sucks! I prefer Mother Nature’s dogfight demonstration.
Update: Holly shit! There’s more than I thought. I knew there seemed to be a constant supply of fueled aerial fighters ready to join the action but I’d never seen more than four simultaneously. I don’t know how long each one would sit out in the trees between jousting runs? I surely had more than four but how many? Just now six were going at it in a swarming, chriping, fluttering, clashing (yes they collide!) battle that improbably fit in about 3 cubic feet of space…constantly swirling with activity. Even the cats couldn’t follow the action.
I still don’t know how many reinforcements are watching from the trees but it must be several more. Castle Curmudgeon is rich in hummingbirds if not in cash. I think I need to get another feeder.