Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hummingbird Madness

Meet Righty. He first showed up in my yard September 10th. He is one of at least three ruby-throated hummingbirds currently visiting.

By far, Righty rules the roost!

He seems to have replaced Patch on the dominant perch in the yard. 

Patch with his hint of "soul patch" gorget feathers center throat. Seen on his perch before his disappearance.
After what I witnessed tonight, for all I know Righty killed Patch.

Patch was my delightful male who hovered and posed for me on a wide variety of flowers. I named him for his central patch of gorget feathers.

Righty on the other hand sports his red gorget feathers on his right lateral throat. Here he is keeping a watchful eye on the feeders and blooms throughout the yard.

Tonight I was watching for him to come down from his perch to nectar on the flowers when I witnessed this! 

Hatch year male ruby-throated hummingbird pummels a hatch year female.
To my surprise he literally pummel this defenseless female. While it may look like mating, it was anything but.

Backing up before attacking again...
The violent back-stabbing

I walked toward the action to scare Righty away. He quickly left while the female remained perched, disheveled, preening, and panting.

After the attack....
It didn't take long for me to realize she was allowing quite close approach. I suspected she was more compromised from the attack than I originally thought. So I retrieved my small nectar feeder and offered her a drink. Surprisingly she accepted my offering. I captured some of the event on video with my iPhone:

After a short period she moved to a higher perch among the cup plants. Her flight was precariously weak. Out of nowhere Righty was on the attack again! Aggressively on her back. On impulse I darted the direction of the hummingbirds, scolding aloud, "Stop it!" I believe I may have officially crossed the line into absurd middle-aged lunacy scolding my neighborhood hummingbirds. However, I simply could not remain silent while the torture ensued. 

Righty hardly missed a beat before he was back at "his" flowers enjoying their bounty.

Righty the Terror nectaring at Black and  Blue Salvia
Within the next hour or so, I saw V, let's call her "V" for victim, nectaring at a couple of the feeders and perching nearby. She still appeared worn down, allowing me to feed her once more before she moved into denser cover. I have to wonder how she will fare overnight. Her flight was concerningly docile when she last relocated to a higher perch. She certainly has a rough road ahead if she tries to persist in my yard for much longer. A part of me hopes Righty will migrate soon and leave V to recuperate in peace before her demanding journey south.

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