Lethal Enforcers~

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Four quarts of nectar were being consumed by The Holler Hummers in 48 hours. But now, each two quart bottle of nectar, has it’s own lethal enforcer, who will attack any hummer who tries to feed. So one hummingbird controls 2 quarts of nectar!
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The most lethal enforcer is the guy above. You can see he has a malformed beak that he may have gotten in one of his many battles. He is like a capitalist robber barron, hoarding riches he will never be able to consume.
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Here is enforcer number two. Both enforcers have visble differences from the other hummers, the beak malformation in number one, and number two is the only black chinned hummingbird at The Holler.
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The other hummers snatch nectar when they can, but most have given up and go feed on the flowers. I think they are the smarter ones. Who wants to waste all this energy fighting?
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All the hummers who do attempt the feeders are intensely leery of attack from above.
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They are constantly ready to self defend!
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I understand that hummingbirds need to feed constantly because of their hyper-drive metabolisms, but I don’t understand how all this relentless attacking is adaptive for them as a species.
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They remind me of human governments that hoard resources and launch vicious attacks for control. I wonder why they, and we, can’t all just share and get along?
Cheers to you from The Holler’s sometimes too “human-like” hummers~

285 thoughts on “Lethal Enforcers~

  1. This was so informative, but I have to say it made me sad. I like to think those darling and beautiful hummingbirds know how to take turns and ‘get along nicely.’ Well, they are part of nature, I suppose. Thanks, Cindy for opening my eyes to those ‘tyrants!’

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      • I feed hundreds of hummers a day. The secret is to have multiple feeders of high sugar content, so that stray hummers make repeat visits to battle the enforcers (high sugar content means twice the normal 4:1 water:sugar ratio that is often suggested – I do 2:1 – hummers prefer high sugar content nectar – makes life easier for them and they preferentially visit the highest sugar content food source).

        When there is critical mass of hummers (usually a half dozen or so), the lone “enforcers” give up and there’s peace around the feeders. But every week or so a new hummer will arrive and attempt to defend his feeder(s) for a while, before giving up in frustration in a few hours (hard to drive off hundreds of hummers).

        FWIW, I use over 1100 lbs of sugar a year for my horde o’ hummers and have anywhere from 4-7 30 oz sized feeders, depending on season. I prefer Perky Pet 30oz feeders because I am able to drill 6 more feeder holes (12 per feeder), allowing the hummers to empty each feeder in a day (so the nectar stays fresh – super important for hummers). Also, Perky Pet feeders have optimal feeding position that hummers prefer (many feeders are absolute garbage – yours is a C- variety imo). And when it’s safe from bees/wasps, I remove the bee guards (the yellow flowers), so two hummers can sit wing to wing and share at peak times (sunset is pandemonium). So we’ll have 24 hummers sitting wing to wing around each feeder (literally touching wings) – and dozens attempting to get a drink. If there’s too many waiting, I know to put out another feeder (or two) – typically during the summer months I have 7 feeders up, all refilled (and cleaned!) daily. I feel like a dairy farmer because I feel compelled to keep the little buggers fed 24/7/365.

        To keep it all relatively manageable, I drill more feeding holes and double the sugar content. If I just used the “recommended” 4:1 sugar content nectar and didn’t drill 2x the feeding holes, I’d need 4x more feeders (16-28 feeders!)

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  2. Wonderful pictures as always Cindy. I never had a lot of hummers visiting, maybe 4 or 5. Even at that, there was always the bossy ones. I hung extra feeders too. It’s a rough road out there at times.

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  3. Nice photos and I’m hoping the hummingbirds make it here to Sconnieland soon. Yes, they’re a brutal bunch. But I think that brute is more like a commie commissar preaching the benefits of the simple life to all, and forcing the simple life on all who don’t agree, while living the high life himself.

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      • When I think of Trump, which seldom happens, orange hair mopped the wrong way comes to mind. What a disaster. But every time I think if little bits of nothing fluttering here and flittering there, putting on a great show that all amounts to nothing, Hillary comes to mind. 🙂

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      • Laughing, you crack me up! I was just reading your Viking Long Boats post. I confess to not being a Hillary fan, but then I am not a fan of any potential candidate that has been mentioned so far. Still Hillary just causes my teeth to hurt, kinda like a cavity that isn’t there…….;) 😉

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  4. I’ve always been fascinated with hummingbirds since I saw my first one as a child. These pictures have shown me more than I could catch in real life. Your photos are amazing and the commentary is informative and entertaining. The analogies you use are apt. 🙂

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  5. Never knew this about hummers, Cindy and we have quite a few of them because of the bushes we’ve planted around the house. They are such fun to watch. Fabulous pictures.

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  6. I am always impressed with their fierceness and apparent fearlessness in my yard. If I’m standing somewhere they don’t want me to, I get zoomed or they hover right in front of my face. When they chase each other I always call it the hummer battles. Amazing little powerhouses.

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    • Yes, the same happens here, but they seem to hover in my face to say hello, or because they are curious, not to drive me away as I am always in the same places when close to them. I love them too!

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  7. Hi Cindy,
    I came over to thank you for visiting my blog Reflections yesterday. When I got here, I found over 500 comments on this post! I’ve never seen even close to that on a post. You must be so proud of the engaged community you’ve built.
    Janice

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    • Welcome and it is a pleasure to meet you! I don’t feel pride but I do feel grateful because I am connected with all these amazing, talented, creative blogging friends, from all over the world! There is no way I could have found and connected with such remarkable people were it not for blogging. Plus when you see someone’s creative outputs, you see into their heart and mind, so you get to know your blogging friends in a more profound way than you do more casual friends. My blogging friends bring me much happiness and I hope it is reciprocal! Cheers to you Janice and wonderful to meet you~

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      • I will respond to this when I have more time later. Off to a birthday celebration with friends. But thank you so much for this beautiful, amazing comment I feel the same way. Janice

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  8. Wonderful post and photos Cindy Dear!Loved your simile … He is like a capitalist robber barron!
    Oftentimes animals societies and their norms seem to have similar charecteristics to ours …
    I was away and I have missed your wonderful posts,I’ll try hard to play catch up.Happy Monday 🙂

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  9. Nailed it on the character assessment! That is one tough looking hombre there with the bent beak. Classic pugilistic profile for the Capo de Tutti Capi, eh?! Oops, I’m waxing macaronic here. But you know what I mean.

    And HOW do you get such spectacularly clear detail in your shots!!!! Simply breathtaking, as always, but all the more astonishing when snagging portraits of these little speed freaks.

    Hope you’re getting some of this miraculous rain over in the Holler, too. We’ve been getting sporadic storm hits for several days, and while it does have its flash-flooding downside I am so glad for our water levels locally. Know you folk out there are in dire need, so I’m sending you good vibes for some all down the left coast.

    Hugs!
    Kathryn

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    • What a creative and fun comment! Sadly, there is no water in sight here, and of course the wild animals are suffering. The hawks and ravens now are drinking from my hand held hose. It is pretty terrible. Glad that you are getting H2O and thank you for the lovely comment!

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  10. Maybe they OD on nectar and are constantly hyper? I wouldn’t like to get on the wrong end of one of those beaks. That said, I would love to ‘meet’ one of these birds, but that’s impossible as I am in the UK and we don’t have them here. Your photos are absolutely stunning, not just in this post but in the very few that I’ve so far had the opportunity to look at. Hope to come back soon and see some more.

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    • Their heartrate can be up to 1,260 beats per minute during the day, but drops to 50-180 at night when they go into torpor, which is like a mini-hibernation state. If they didn’t go into torpor they would starve to death over night due to their hyper-drive metabolism. They do drink a lot of nectar, but they require bugs for protein and die on a diet of only nectar, which happens when they get hurt and people feed them only nectar. Aren’t you glad you dropped by for all this irrelevant information on a bird you’ve never seen? They will be a quiz on Monday. 😉 😉
      Thank you for your kind thoughts and for stopping by~

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