Flight or Fight: Understanding the Aggressive Hummingbird Personality

Flight or Fight: Understanding the Aggressive Hummingbird Personality

Ladies and gentlemen in the corner to my left, weighing in at 3.1 grams with a flight speed of 30 mph we have hummingbird #1, and in the corner to my right, weighing in at 3.5 grams with a flight speed of 40 mph we have hummingbird #2. Fighters get ready… Go!

Aggressive hummingbird in flight

Hummingbirds are very territorial, especially the males. The male hummingbird is not only protective of his lady friends, but also with his food. To understand this aggressive behavior we must know that hummers mean business when it comes to finding food. Another personality trait of hummingbirds that ties in with their aggression is their curious nature; this trait makes all types of feeders appealing to them. So, where there is food they will find it.

When a hummer spots a food source they will dive right in to stake their claim. However, if an intruder comes along they are more than prepared to defend what they define as their territory. They will attack not only their own kind, but bees, butterflies, and sphinx moths as well. Believe it or not, the hummingbird will sometimes linger around the same feeder an entire day in order to guard his food and prevent any intruders from sneaking by.

So, you may be wondering why hummingbirds have such a high level of aggression. As we all know food = energy and energy = life! For migration purposes the hummers must be prepared by fueling up their energy levels before taking off on their long journey. What’s more, after a long journey they must replenish the energy that’s been used. So you see the importance of hanging your feeder each season and making sure your feeder is filled with plenty of energy-charged nectar.

In addition to being aggressive around food sources, hummers are also aggressive during courtship… but that’s a topic for another time.

In short, think about hanging more than one feeder. The more feeders you hang, the fewer casualties.


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