When hummingbird season arrives it’s great to see them come and investigate your yard before feeding. You may find, however, that one or two seem to be bullying the others. To find out how you stop a bully hummingbird, you first need to find out what it is that makes them attack the other birds.
Why Are Hummingbirds Aggressive?
The main thing you need to know about hummers is that they are very territorial birds and they can get very aggressive if another bird enters their territory. If you have lots of hummingbirds in your garden at the same time, then you will soon find out that they don’t live together in a group very well.
Hummingbirds enjoy their solitary life and when they migrate, they do so on their own. While some birds prefer to migrate in groups, the hummers make the trip alone. The males find a mate, and as soon as they have mated, they will leave the female to incubate the eggs and raise the chicks on her own. If the male tries to get near the nest, the female is likely to chase him away.
Their territory is chosen carefully, based on the availability of food and water. If another bird comes to feed of their nectar or drink their water, the hummingbird will drive them away. Both male and female hummingbirds will display this territorial behavior and this is often the reason for any bullying you may see in your garden.
How Bully Hummingbirds May Act
It also helps if you can identify aggressive behavior so that you can work out the best way to prevent it.
Like most birds, hummingbirds will make a lot of noise if they feel threatened. This is designed to scare other birds away. If you hear them making a fast, loud chirping or buzzing noise, they’re giving other birds a warning.
Keep an eye on how the hummingbirds act around the feeder. Most creatures in the wild make themselves look larger than they are to deter any predators and hummers are no exception. They will raise their tails, feathers and wings to make themselves look as big as they possibly can to frighten off any intruders.
Shows of aggression
Diving may be the first sign you have of a hummer bullying the others. When lots of them gather around the same feeder, your bully will initially try to scare them away. If this doesn’t work he will dive at them to try to chase them away.
If the birds are still at the feeder, he may become more aggressive and resort to fighting. You may think such a small bird wouldn’t get too aggressive, but you’d be wrong. Hummingbirds protect their territories fiercely and as a last resort, they will turn to violence which can injure or even kill the other bird.
Our Tips For Stopping A Bully Hummingbird
Now that you understand that hummingbirds aren’t naturally aggressive and are merely defending their territory, you can look at your garden to work out how to prevent this type of behavior. The main thing to look at is where you have your feeders, as this is where most of the bullying will take place.
- If you have more than one feeder in your garden, this can be cause for aggression and some hummingbirds will not want to share their food. Moving the feeders so they are well spaced around your garden can help alleviate a lot, if not all, of the bullying.
- If you notice that certain hummingbirds are more aggressive than others, put a feeder close to where they perch. They may ‘claim’ this feeder, leaving the other feeders free for the other hummers.
- If your garden is large enough, you can also add more feeders as you may find that the birds will choose to feed from one particular feeder as their own territory. If possible try to create different feeding areas which are hidden from each other by fences, windbreaks or bushes. If the hummers can’t see the other feeders, they are less likely to become aggressive.
If you do find you have an aggressive hummingbird, don’t worry. It’s quite natural and a sign you need to re-organise your feeders or garden. Don’t try to scare it away or you may make it even more aggressive and you could also scare the other hummingbirds.
Understanding their territorial behavior is the first step to preparing your garden so it is as welcoming for the birds as it can be.