Mortal Combat!

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Notice the hummer spearing another in the head, amazingly I have never seen a hummer seriously hurt from the sparring although I imagine they could be. I certainly hear the sound of their airborne impacts, and see the missing and displaced feathers.
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This guy is waiting to spear the guy from above who is about to attack him! Hummingbirds move incredibly quickly, but when they are in attack mode they move at warp-speed.
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You can see evidence of the airborne impacts in the ruffled feathers.
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Some seem disproportionately harassed.
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Others position themselves for advantangeous attack!
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The majority though avoid the fray and remain untouched. I suspect their aerial evasion techniques are even more evolved than their attack skills. They are simply phenomonal fliers.
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This is of course how I prefer to see the hummers! Peaceful and radiant.
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Cheers to you from the occasionally bickersome, but always beautiful, Holler Hummers~

192 thoughts on “Mortal Combat!

    • At The Holler The Black Chinned Hummingbirds are by far the more aggressive and the Anna’s the most docile. They always settle down as the sun starts to set and they need to bulk up for the night, so I think they just like to do it~

  1. Once again your avian pictures astound. The bold use of red gave me the impression I was seeing a painting. The rest give us a chance to really look at humming birds close up and still. Great photos!

    • Did you know hummingbirds can flash their colors at will??? This guy on the wire was flashing big time waiting to attack. They are amazing. Thank you so much for your nice comment~

  2. Great hummers in action shots, Cindy. Peggy maintains a humming bird feeder and it is always good for action. They even buzz us if they think we are interfering with their feeding. πŸ™‚ Beautiful and fun to watch but possibly the most aggressive bird I have ever seen. –Curt

  3. Wow, Cindy, these pictures are fantastic! It’s something that those tiny little hummingbirds can be so territorial. At least they’re not mortally wounding each other. What beautiful creatures!

    • I have no idea. Hummers are such amazing adaptors, so evolved for what they do. They are the only bird that can fly backwards, they can migrate 1000’s of miles, they fly at incredible velocity. Sometimes I think they spar because they CAN and they enjoy the challenge~

      • I was also wondering if that is the case. They spar like we take up the sport of fencing. By the way, I am very impressed that the feeder is made in the USA. Well done! πŸ™‚

  4. Great photos. Humming birds are really aggressive. I remember watching one chase a finch into a rose bush, and then the hummingbird perched on a branch and waited for the finch to come back out and resumed the chase.

    • The official explanation would be territory defense and offense, but I suspect they spar because they are so perfectly designed for it and they enjoy it. Kind of like extreme sport athletes, maybe they get an adrenline charge!

    • Yep, they are bickersome boys and the males don’t even help one wit with child raising. They are just jumping jack flashes, dash, dash, dashing. Hope you are on the mend my friend. Sounds like a rough patch which I hope will resolve soon!

  5. Nice work, Cindy. I have only had one hummer at a time at my feeder, so I didn’t realize they could be so aggressive. But I do know they are fast.

  6. Great photos, Cindy! Hummers are so amazing to watch, even when they battle over the feeder. Thank you for sharing another side of life and beauty.

  7. Reblogged this on Spirit In Action and commented:
    Thank you again for sharing so many beautiful images, Cindy! The Aztecs of the classical period said that only the most courageous warriors and women who died in childbirth could reincarnate as hummingbirds. When I first read that bit of their mythology, I did not know about hummingbirds amazing aerial battles. Now it makes perfect sense!

    • Yes!! There is a massive hummingbird carved in the rock somewhere in South America, viewable only from height, made by the ancient ones. They were in touch with many aspects of the world that ‘modern’ man has blocked out which is of course unfortunate for us.

    • Laughing….Actually not. Watching their antics is the most relaxing and distracting entertainment. Everybody at The Holler can always be found at some point in the day sitting outside, or standing inside watching the ridiculous antics of the ever energetic hummingbirds. It’s not only relaxing, but it’s funny. Of course I have never seen a severe injury from the parries in the six years we’ve lived here. If I did, it would not be funny~

  8. Our domestics are 80% Brown and 20% pitch Black.
    Cindy, thanks for sharing these captures, it’s never boring to visit the blog and admire these creatures.

    • Those would be hard colors to photograph. All black is hard for me to get texture on. Ravens for example, I haven’t posted, or Turkey Vultures, because I have to lower the brightness too much to get definition.

  9. Great pictures. As I watch the hummingbirds at my feeder, I wonder why they can’t just eat side by side. Sometimes I wonder if it is just a game as they chase each other from the feeder.

    • I think so. I do think they enjoy it. Some never participate and I do notice as the sun sets their aggression increases, but then settles down and they feed cooperatively. They remind me of boys wrestling~

  10. eeeeeeek. I saw my first hummingbird close up this weekend. I mean close, it was so amazing. No camera in hand, not even my phone.

      • How you get such close ups? Are you relatively close? I noticed the focal length was just over 100mm. Usually I need to be fairly close to get such nice photos. Aren’t the birds frightened away?

      • No more than six feet away, often closer as they fly very close to me. Hummingbirds rapidly habituate to people they see regularly. This is unlike many wild birds that remain skittish. They are not the least bit afraid of me. They fly to within inches of my face and buzz there looking at me thinking only God knows what!!

  11. Holler Humers, thatΒ΄s news, beautiful birds, not like the ones that roam through my my house. They could be more like these types, and I actually know bird talk by now. At six a.m is when the usually start “squeeling” more than at night so my guess itΒ΄s the mother telling the smaller birds to wake up and do whatever birds to before they live their house.

  12. Ok, Cuz…, I had a ruby throat that came to the yard/flowers every day…, until I put out a feeder. Haven’t seen him/her for weeks now. Did I offend it or something??? Your pics of the hummers alre always a study in detail and are beautiful. πŸ™‚

    • I’m stumped…Are you mixing sugar with water, 1/4 ratio? Are you using a standard feeder? You can put some drops of red food dye into the mixture until the birds find and start using your feeder and then stop the dye as it is better for the birdies.

  13. Cindy – You are an amazing photographer. Those hummers almost popped off my screen. I still have to coax the hummers here. I believe I’m doing everything possible, including have the hummer misters going day and night both in front and out back. The lavender and wild flowers took a heavy hit this past winter but I’ve replanted everything. Now I’m playing the waiting game.

    • Oh I hope you are successful! I know you have a lot of bird knowlelge so there can’t be a problem with your technique. Hope they start sippin’ soon! Good luck~

  14. I had no idea that they had ‘behavioural problems’, Cindy! Such tiny and beautiful creatures being aggressive seems so strange. Thank you for sharing, again πŸ™‚

    • Merci beaucoup! I have never seen a hummingbirds get seriously hurt from the sparring, which does not mean it doesn’t happen. I have seen hummingbirds hurt by flying into a window in the middle of their sparring but they recovered.

  15. what a fresh framing of these altogether stellar birdeez. The intricate detail–as noted by thoughtful caption–really added to the “in the eye” of the storm feeling. I had no idea they speared each other, though I suppose that makes good sense. And this from a woman with 2 silo sized feeders…

    aside: I have the 2 giganter feeders since they ARE so territorial about the feeders, as if the silo isn’t enough for the tiny fellas–and notice when I go outside to use my Stairmaster, or just read on the patio, the less dominant birds try to cadge drinks then–but the itinerant bird is quick to chase ’em off, even if he/she then won’t linger to eat…

    sometimes they are all very bold, and will stay in handfuls when I work out…

    really great post. You could BE Google for nature, I swear…

    • Wait! I am stuck on the concept that your stair master is outside. What genius! how come I never thought of this? We have a exercise room, that is also my husband’s wine storage room. I NEVER go in this room. What a concept to move the eliptical trainer OUTSIDE! I might actually use it! Plus the hummers would get a kick out of it. I want to come to your house and take a photo series of you on your stairmaster with the hummers! Priceless~

      • :mrgreen: <<I'm ready for my close-up Mrs. De Mille πŸ˜‰ Go for it, CK! I even had a weather cover custom made for it–like an outdoor grill drop cloth…but bulkier! (in fact the best folk to approach about such things–people involved with outdoor furniture covers)

      • Oooooh, I am sending this comment to my hubby for a honey-do request!!! He seems skeptical, but I am not. It will amuse the wildlife and me as well!!! πŸ˜‰

  16. They are such beautiful little birds. I have never known them to have an aggressive streak though :O
    These are wonderful pictures, Cindy. Thank you for sharing.

    Vijay

    • That is exactly right. I can’t help but love tiny little creatures that can migrate 1000’s of miles and have personalities to match! Tough little buggers~

  17. Mercy, I had NO IDEA hummers were so wild!! We rarely see more than two at a time at our feeder, so all appears calm. Thanks for capturing another side of nature!

    • They have this blustering they do, but they all manage to eat peacefully at times and I have yet to see a serious injury….Still they love their drama!!!

  18. Birds can be really aggressive with one another. The other day, I saw three magpies laying into another of their kind in mid-flight, scattering feathers everywhere. They were making such a din, too.

    • Yes! In Australia I saw Lorikeets going after another Keet that had it’s foot tangled in twine. The violence can be shocking and seems unadaptive~

  19. Beautiful pictures Cindy! And I can just imagine that warp speed, they are very fast little birds, probably where some of the ideas for fairies came from, I believe they have the ability of warp speed too!! πŸ˜‰

  20. Thank you for following! You have beautiful images here, I have never seen a hummingbird myself, precious little things, why they have to fight so fiercely?

    • Welcome! Ornithologists would say they are territorial. I suspect they just fly so well they love the challenge. I am in awe of your photos! Cheers to you and thank you too~

  21. Wow, I had no idea about the combative nature of these stunning creatures! Thank you for sharing the photos and the intriguing information. Peace….

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