Small, nimble and fast are some of the words we often use to describe our cute little hummingbirds but their true nature can also lend itself to additional adjectives not quite so synonymous with these small birds.
While they are certainly delicate and small, our hummers can exhibit some extremely territorial, competitive and downright aggressive behaviours at times. Weighing in at around three grams, these feisty birds can in some cases, be considered one of the fiercest birds on the planet, at least on a pound-for-pound basis.
When it comes to hummingbird aggression it is typically reserved for the male sex and is based on extreme primal instincts.
Why So Aggressive?
In its simplest form, it comes down to survival. Male hummingbirds often become aggressive when food is present. When a consistent food source is discovered, like one of your feeders, males will immediately go into survival mode, no matter how often you replenish it.
These birds will immediately attempt to establish dominance around the feeder by laying stake to their territorial claim, especially during the spring and fall seasons. In addition to defending the food source, spring male hummingbirds are busy trying to attract a mate and defending nests when present. Conversely, during the fall months, they will become very attached to reliable food sources as they prepare for migration.
While there are some reports of unfortunate fatalities from feuding hummingbirds, these types of confrontations very seldom take place. Instead, you are likely to witness the usual displays of dominance characteristic of the natural world and birds. Aggressive males will hold themselves in an attack-like posture, flaring their chests and tails or spreading their wings to appear as a worthy adversary to those encroaching on their territory.
Additionally, these birds will also perform aerial acrobatics such as dives and chases to dissuade rival hummers.
What You Can Do
When it comes down to competing for available resources, the reasonable conclusion would be to add additional feeders. Often the addition of another feeder will immediately eliminate aggressive behaviours, allowing for more birds to feed care-free.
If adding another feeder is not an option for you, either placing your feeder close to additional perching positions or adding one of your own can also curb this behaviour. Male hummingbirds love the ability to perch nearby and keep a close eye on the feeder, which ends up calming them down and putting their mind at ease.
If it proves to be too difficult to move the feeder close to a perch position, adding one of our hummingbird swings nearby works like a charm. In addition to keeping tempers down, these small swings also offer snap-happy birders another perfect photo opportunity.
If you notice aggressive hummers, cardinals or other species be sure to contact us and let us know. We have a variety of products and solutions to solve these unique problems, particularly during the busy spring season.