Do Hummingbirds Kill Each Other? Fact Stranger Than Fiction
Hummingbirds are cute little birds, but they can be aggressive, unfriendly, and territorial. They defend their food sources like gladiators. But do hummingbirds kill each other over food or mates? Let’s find out.
At ~2.25 inches, the bee hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world. No matter how tiny and adorable hummingbirds look, they are not exactly friendly birds.
They have been known to fight other hummingbirds and may even kill each other during an intense bout.
Hummingbirds like to live solitary lives. Even when they migrate for the winters, they do it alone. Hummingbirds only come together during their mating season.
You may find a flock of them at a hummingbird feeder, but they don’t fly together. Hummingbird behavior is markedly territorial. Even towards humans.
Male hummingbirds choose their territories based on food, water, and nectar availability.
In contrast, females will claim territory on the nest they make. Once they decide their territories, both males and females will protect them fiercely.
Male hummingbirds are more aggressive than female hummingbirds. They may share their territories with females but chase away other male intruders.
Ways Hummingbirds Show Aggression
Even though hummingbirds are tiny, they use gestures, sounds, and their sharp beaks and talons to intimidate intruders.
The most common way hummingbirds show aggression is by chasing the intruders away.
They would first attack the intruder before chasing them away from the feeder. While chasing, they may also hum or chirp angrily.
A hummingbird may make threatening postures that help exaggerate its strength and size to intimidate intruders.
Pointing beaks, flaring tail feathers, raising wing or crown feathers, and spreading wings are some of the postures hummingbirds make when showing aggression.
You would find hummingbirds hovering right in front of the intruder, then flying to a height
They then make a sharp chirp sound with their tail feathers before diving down, aiming straight at the intruder.
Before diving, they may also make a piercing chirp to warn the intruder.
To intimidate an intruder, hummingbirds can make loud humming and chirping sounds.
They make fast-paced sounds to tell others they are entering a claimed territory. A resident hummingbird may quicken its humming and chirps if it spots an intruder.
When nothing else works, aggressive hummingbirds may resort to fighting. They use their sharp tails and bills as weapons.
When the birds bump against each other during a fight, it can result in severe injuries and sometimes even death.
Here is a dazzling display of hummingbird battles displaying some of these behaviors:
Do Hummingbirds Ever Kill Each Other?
On the whole, even an angry hummingbird starts with the least violent options like chasing, postures, dives, and sounds.
Therefore hummingbird fights to the death are quite rare. But it can happen if one bird gets severely injured in the fight.
Why Do Hummingbirds Chase Each Other?
If you have noticed hummingbirds chasing each other, it can be because of two main reasons.
Since they flap their wings anywhere between 720-5400 beats per minute, hummingbirds need a lot of food.
They use the sugar in flower nectar to fuel themselves. Hummingbirds can eat fruits, nectar and insects equivalent to half their body weight every day.
It is important for hummingbirds to protect their food supplies because it is difficult for them to find enough food for themselves.
Once they find a feeder, they show aggressive behaviors to protect it from others.
During the fall season, hummingbirds chase each other to protect the flowers when not many blossoms are available.
Before migrating for the winters, they try to get as much nectar as possible. However, a Rufous hummingbird, one of the most aggressive hummingbirds, can be aggressive even when it is migrating.
Another time when hummingbirds chase each other is their mating season. Hummingbird mating season starts at the end of spring and continues till the first few summer weeks
During this time, males will seek out suitable mates and claim territories.
They will try to impress females by chasing them, mating dances and showing off their bright colors.
Interestingly, once they mate, the males have little to do with the eggs and may never even see the female again.
How To Stop Hummingbirds Fighting Over The Feeders?
If you put out feeders in a tight space with limited food, hummingbird fights over territory can easily happen. Here are a few ways to avoid causing fights.
Remove Outside Threats
If there are other birds’ nests in your backyard, place the hummingbird feeder as far away from them as possible.
If you have cats or dogs who like to hang near the feeder, then change the location of the feeder where your pet can not reach it.
You will notice that hummingbirds will act less aggressively if there are no outside threats present near their feeders.
Remove The Perch
A bully hummingbird is one who likes to control all available feeders. He would have a favorite spot atop a high branch where he would sit and keep an eye on the hummingbird feeder and surrounding area.
Here’s a video depicting bully hummingbird behavior:
Remove this perch if you can. Otherwise, try to block it using a cover. The bully bird will have to either lower its aggression or move on to another spot.
Spread Out The Feeders Strategically In Your Yard
You can try spacing the feeders if there is a lot of space in your backyard. Hanging them strategically in an area where one feeder is not visible from the other will keep hummingbird fights at bay.
If there is a space crunch, you can also place one feeder at the front and another in your backyard.
Even if there is an aggressive bird who wants all the feeders for himself, he can’t get to all of them quickly enough. It gives time to other birds to feed.
Use Multiple Single-Port Feeders
A multiple port feeder will attract male hummingbirds to a single area, resulting in territorial fights.
With multiple single port feeders, every dominant hummingbird will have its own feeder, and fewer fights will occur. Many feeders will be challenging to control for a single male.
Are hummingbirds playing or fighting when they chase each other?
If you notice one hummingbird chasing another without aggression, then it is most likely a male hummingbird trying to grab the attention of a female hummingbird for mating.
Do hummingbirds stab each other?
Why do hummingbirds fight over the same feeder?
They showcase this same behavior by fighting over a feeder.
Hummingbirds show territorial behavior and resort to aggression when protecting what they believe is theirs.
While it is not very common, hummingbirds can kill each other if one of them gets seriously injured. Thank you for reading this article.