As our hummingbird season draws to an end there are still two immature boys fighting at the feeders. With two birds and two feeders one might think that this would be a peaceful time — but oh no — it’s not so.
The feeders hang at opposite sides of the house and it is astonishing to see the birds chase each other with gusto from one feeder to the other. Only at nightfall do these energetic Hummers settle down to drink deeply of the fresh nectar, each at his very own feeder.
I know for sure that both birds are male since each took his turn to hover right in front of my face – flashing – not a ruby throat, but the tiny stripes that are characteristic of the immature male.
It is a fact that humming birds love to joust, especially the males. And it is not ever apparent if they do it in earnest or in play.
So I wonder if the Sword-billed Hummingbirds do the same?
The Sword-bills live in the forrests of South America and feed on the long corollas of passion-flowers, fuchsias, and daturas.
At a total length of six inches, these Hummers are much bigger than the Ruby-throats that summer here at Sontheim. And anyone who has watched a hummingbird groom its feathers with its bill will understand that the Sword-billed one has to use its feet to do the grooming.