Monday, April 23, 2018

HE'S BACK BUT THE MALE HUMMERS AREN'T


Well it is humming bird season again for those of us lucky enough to have some semblance of Spring and guess who is back?  Yep, the biggest hummer ever.

Last years picture but same position this year
I really was hoping he would find somewhere else to go but this Red Bellied Woodpecker has a serious sugar habit. At least he hasn't brought any buddies this year. Chubby loves to flash his red head at me as he leaves the feeder.

The really strange thing though has been the Hummingbird's behavior this year. Normally a lone male makes the first appearance of the year as the males are the first to migrate. However this year, I have yet to see a male.  First to show up was a polite and grateful little female.  Then a day later, another equally polite lady Hummer appeared. Now I see only ladies.

Instead of the senseless fighting over seats at the diner like the males do, the gals pull up perches opposite eachother and slurp contentedly. It is such a welcome action that I know will disappear when the males arrive. Once they do arrive, it will not settle down at the feeder till the full mob of 35 or so little birds arrive and they are forced to take turns.

Male Hummers are the cranky, lotharios of the bird kingdom. They fight for food---sometimes even running off the ladies they plan to impregnate from the feeder.   The wily rogues breed at incredible speed. The breeding I witnessed lasted all of 3 seconds--then he flew off to find a new conquest leaving an single mom behind. These scalawags do nothing to help care for their offspring. Cute only goes so far fellows.

Where are those rascally males? Oh well for now I am enjoying the relative peace at the feeder--if you don't count the Woodpecker hogging the nectar.

Do you feed hummers and have you noticed a lack of males this year? Should I be relieved or worried?

43 comments :

  1. I would be thrilled to have a red-bellied woodpecker visit a nectar feeder here. Sadly I'm a bit too far north but should soon have returning humming birds. I never paid attention to the gender of my feisty hummers but will take notice from now on.

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    1. Out to Pasture,
      The only problem with the big guy is that he really slurps the nectar and he scares off the little ones. Guess I need to put out a feeder just for him.

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  2. I wouldn't know how to tell a male and female hummingbird apart!

    We don't get them in the UK but we do in AZ, and they seem to get braver every time we go there. But we don't feed them, they seem to hover around the palm trees most of the time. They are tiny though.

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    1. Joey,
      The males that visit me have a splashy red scarf around their necks that flashes in the sun. Easy to spot. The ladies are a plain green.

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  3. No hummers here yet, but the bluebirds are back.

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    1. smartcat,
      Aren't the blues the best? For the first time in 14 years I finally have a nesting pair. Usually the sparrows run them off.

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  4. We don't have hummingbirds here and there's a distinct lack of bird feeders too. Most of our birds are large and noisy, a feeder would have to be huge.

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    1. River,
      Large and noisy would deter me also. It would be like putting out corn for crows. I feed the hummers and winter birds when snow is on the ground but that is all.

      Delete
  5. The hummers don't get to VT until mid May, but we always have a resident woodpecker too.

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    1. Olga,
      If you put out a feeder, don't be surprised to find your woodpecker stopping for a drink. I hear it is becoming common.

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  6. Yes, that is definitely the biggest hummer I've ever seen! LOL. Our hummers don't really leave and some are around all year long. They do come back in larger numbers in the spring, though. Plenty of males and females. :-)

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    1. Djan,
      How lucky to have them year round. Good to know you have both sexes. I was beginning to think this species was in danger.

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  7. I've never had good luck with hummingbird feeds so I quit putting them out. Instead I'll buy flowers that I know they like and I might see one or two through the day but that's all. I love woodpeckers and can attract 5-6 at a time at a normal feeder. I didn't know they like sweets!

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    1. Jean
      Evidently this lust for sweets is a new development and is growing. Can't say I blame them.

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  8. I have never had hummingbirds. My sister and Dad both had great luck. Hahaha. Certainly never saw a woodpecker at the feeder.

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    1. Barbara,
      This honking big bird is a regular and drinks many times a day. He is hooked.

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  9. As DJan said, we have hummers year round. We see them in the garden on whatever blooms in winter, which is a few things. We don't put up a feeder, just plants they like.

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    1. Linda R,
      Plants are the best way and keeps them at a reasonable number. I did have honeysuckle which they loved for a while till it took over.

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  10. We have Anna Hummingbirds all year long, so mostly we see a lot of males fighting everyday for space on the feeder. This year, I saw only one migrating Rufous. It's been a cold wet spring, so maybe they're taking their sweet time in warmer climes. Love seeing that woodpecker on your feeder!

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    1. robin,
      How nice to have yearly residents but sad they don't have any better manners than our Rufous fellows.
      I am thinking of putting an extra feeder out just for the Woodie.

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  11. Perhaps they were all trans and have made the change.

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    1. joeh,
      Hum,I wonder if removing the red neck markings is like removing an Adam's apple?

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  12. I have barn cats. I feed them every day but only a small portion so they will continue to catch mice. On the sad side of this story they also catch birds and so I don't feed the birds to keep them safe.

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  13. Annie,
    Smart move. My dog Callie is well fed but she will kill fledglings for fun. Hate that.

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  14. Dear Patti, I don't have bird feeders, but my sister-in-law does. She hasn't mentioned hummingbirds coming to her feeders yet and I know she feeds them each year. I'll let you know what's happening here in western Missouri when she and I talk birds! Peace.

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    1. Dee,
      Thanks. Check if the males are showing up. They may be rascles but the species needs them to continue.

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  15. We used to see a lot more hummingbirds than we do now. We put out feeders, but haven't seen many in the last few years. We do have a pair of woodpeckers that enjoy the catfood... and probably have a nest nearby. But I've never seen one at a hummingbird feeder.

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    1. Rian,
      Guess yours are happy with the cat food and don't have a sugar habit yet. I understand Woodies at hummingbird feeders is showing up more and more. They are evolving.

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  16. I enjoyed your description of the hummingbirds and also that big fellow with the sweet tooth! Our weather has been too cold to put out the feeder yet but I'm hoping I'll be able to soon. I understand what you mean about the male birds. The way they dive bomb each other here I expect to see one goared by the sword like beak of another one!

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    1. Bonnie,
      I guess all the birds are as confused as we are by the crazy weather. Sadly, I guess they can and do fight to the death.

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  17. I had to laugh at your large hummer and his sugar addiction. So far I have not seen any hummers at all. I don't have a feeder for them but I do have plants that they enjoy when they are in bloom. I will probably begin seeing them when the blooms appear. When I do see them they are mostly males. Hugs and nose kisses for you and yours from me and mine. Have a great week sweet Patti.

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    1. Maggie,
      Well plants are the best and natural way to feed them rather than sugar water. Hope you get some males this year. I am just a bit worried at the lack of them here this year.

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  18. Just read your story about the hummingbirds mating and tried to read it to my husband, but was laughing so hard I couldn't get it out. So funny. You really should write a book

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    1. Buttons and Quilts,
      I am glad you followed the link to the Red Neck Romance post. I had fun writing that and am glad I found your funny bone.
      Thank you for thinking so but I really don't have enough material to fill a pamphlet.

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  19. I never fed them, but now that I have a patio with a cover, perfect to hang feeders from, I think I will. Great bird stories and, yes, a book should be the next step. You are a great story teller.

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    1. Inger,
      I hope you do, they will entertain you with their frantic lifestyle.
      Thank you, so glad you think so.

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  20. We used to feed them, but the gardeners were vicious and cut their homes down. We encourage them to go elsewhere now.

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    1. Mage,
      Yikes, they give gardeners a bad name. So sorry.

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  21. We do get them but we have never set out feeders. I can hardly see them at boyanical gardens as they flitter about so quickly. Only rarely can my vision catch a glimpse. So far it is the coldest April in a very long time. I wonder hoe they ‘ll manage.

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    1. Heidrun,
      They really do move fast. It has been cold so they are getting here late but are finally showing up. Guess they stay where it is warm. Wonder how they know?

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  22. Mmm I think there was an important lesson in this post and I must honestly say I entirely subscribe to it....:)

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  23. Amazing seeing Red-Bellied Woodpeckers enjoying the Nectar.... I used to put out feeders for the hummingbirds --but stopped when I had more bees than I did birds! SO---I can't tell you anything about the male hummers this year.... Hope you find out something.

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  24. Wow! You get 35 hummers? That's amazing! We never had hummers in Illinois and certainly not in Hawaii.I just love all your posts, Patti.

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