Sunday, September 6, 2015

Guarding the Honey Pot

Having watched of hummingbirds for some time, I think I have a pretty good understanding of their behavior in relation to the feeder. One bird always establishes ownership rights over the feeder and her main task for the summer is to try and ensure that no one else gets the silly idea that they can drink from her pot.

Although she does disappear from time to time for short periods, the borders of her territory seem to encompass the edges of the front yard where the feeder hangs.

While she does have a favorite perch, she will often change positions so that any other hummingbird entering the yard doesn't know for sure whether she is watching. Can you find the hummingbird in this photo? Even when you watch them, it can be very difficult to determine where they landed. Somehow, other hummingbirds seem to be able to spot her fairly easily.

Favorable sites for guarding the pot have a few requirements. One is that the branch be free of leaves that could block her sight of the feeder. She will always sit where she has a straight line of sight to the feeder. Like large birds that prefer dead branches, they are careful not to damage their wing feathers. Here, while she has her back to the feeder, she is watching an interloper above her sitting on another branch.

At times, another female will fly in to where she is perched and hover right in front of her. I haven't been able to determine why. Is it another hummingbird trying to assert itself and challenging ownership of the territory?

Could it possibly one of her offspring feeling the need for a little maternal care? I see other birds such as Titmice leading their young families around teaching them how to find food. I have never seen that with hummingbirds. It makes me think their offspring are pretty much on their own from the time they have fledged.

The grand dame does seem to be more tolerant of some birds, which makes me think these might be her own young from this year. At times, they even come to the feeder while she is nearby and she does not chase them away. If you look carefully, you will see there are, not two, but three birds in this photo.

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