How to Deal With Bully Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds may seem like sweet little birds, full of glittering color and purposeful energy. However, these tiny birds can be the biggest bullies at hummingbird feeders. Bully hummingbirds guard their favorite feeding spots and chase away visitors, even other birds many times their size. Birders who know how to deal with bully hummingbirds can calm these feisty fliers and will peacefully invite a variety of birds to visit hummingbird feeders.
Why Hummingbirds Can Have Bad Attitudes
Birds can be either social or solitary depending on their overall personalities. Hummingbirds tend to be solitary creatures and rarely congregate in large flocks. The exception is at popular feeding areas where they have become accustomed to the company of other hummingbirds.
A single hummingbird will often defend a preferred feeing spot. This happens in early spring or late fall when food sources are more scarce. It's astonishing to see such a tiny bird fight so fiercely, and hummingbirds use several tactics to assert their dominance, including:
· Buzzing, chirping, or chittering to announce their territory and control
· Puffing up or flaring their throat or tail feathers to show strength and health
· Diving in bold, visible patterns to show their prowess and intimidate others
· Chasing after intruders to harass them and force them to move on
· Directly fighting with interlopers, using their bills and talons as weapons
While any hummingbird can become a bully, ruby-throated hummingbirds and rufous hummingbirds are the biggest bullies. A single hummingbird can dominate a feeding station and deter other birds away unless steps are taken to curb their bad attitudes.
See Also: How to Attract Swarms of Hummingbirds
Dealing With Bully Hummingbirds
Fortunately, it is easy to mitigate hummingbird aggression with easy backyard steps. To keep these tiny birds from taking over
· Add More Bird Feeders
It is easy for one dominant hummingbird to preside over a single nectar feeder. If there are multiple feeders the bird will be hard pressed to keep watch on all of them. The other hungry hummingbirds will have more opportunities to steal a sip. Using smaller feeders with fewer feeding ports will make it easier for bird feeders to serve multiple birds.
· Space Feeders Out
A bully hummingbird can easily take over several feeders if they’re placed close together. Moving feeders to different areas of the yard will create several hubs for feeding activity that one bird can't patrol as easily. Placing feeders on different sides of your yard or around corners will yield the best results.
· Add Natural Food Sources
Planting nectar-rich flowers and flowering vines will provide more food for hummingbirds to share. This also creates sheltered spaces for these birds to forage. With more food available, especially in separate flowerbeds, borders, or containers, hummingbirds generally become less aggressive.
· Remove Dominant Perches
One bully hummingbird will typically have a favorite perch from which to survey the area and keep a lookout for interlopers. Removing the lookout perch will encourage the hummingbird to move to a less favorable area and give other birds more freedom to feed without harassment.
· Create a Separate Feeding Station
Hummingbirds may not only be bullies about their own nectar feeders, but they can also be aggressive about any nearby birds. Moving a hummingbird feeding station away from seed feeders can help hummingbirds relax and reduce overall aggression among hungry birds. This lets every bird visit the feeders they prefer.
Using several of these tips will help backyard birders in dealing with bully hummingbirds. It is likely there will be one dominant hummingbird at your bird feeders, but it is possible to encourage better behavior for all feathered visitors.