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Noon Edition

Hummingbirds

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We all love to see hummingbirds hovering over our flowers and near our feeders. They are such a bonus in our gardens, and so pretty. However, modern research is showing that no matter how pretty they are, these tiny birds are extremely aggressive.

Scientific studies have revealed that aggression is part of hummingbirds’ daily lives. Their beaks are long and slender, perfect for pollinating flowers, but also for fights between males. They stab each other! Some hummingbirds even have hooked serrated beaks like a shark. While all male hummingbirds fight, only a few species have weaponized bills.

All males apparently have a specific territory of flowers that they fight to own. The females shop around.

The males with the weaponized beaks set up their own mating territories on the best patches of flowers and won’t let others get near those blooms. So we should place two feeding stations a little distance from each other so that if a male hummingbird is aggressive about one, others can use the second feeder.

Have lots of late-season bloomers, like mums, so that there are many flowers blooming in the fall, since ruby-throated birds, for example, are staying later now in our gardens.

Zinnias, salvias, anise hyssop, asters, petunias, butterfly bush and rose of Sharon are just a few of the flowers that attract these little wonders.

Hummingbirds fighting

Hummingbird combat. (Alex Berger, Flickr)

We all love to see hummingbirds hovering over our flowers and near our feeders. They are such a bonus in our gardens, and so pretty. However, modern research is showing that no matter how pretty they are, these tiny birds are extremely aggressive.

Scientific studies have revealed that aggression is part of hummingbirds’ daily lives. Their beaks are long and slender, perfect for pollinating flowers, but also for fights between males. They stab each other! Some hummingbirds even have hooked serrated beaks like a shark. While all male hummingbirds fight, only a few species have weaponized bills.

All males apparently have a specific territory of flowers that they fight to own. The females shop around.

The males with the weaponized beaks set up their own mating territories on the best patches of flowers and won’t let others get near those blooms. So we should place two feeding stations a little distance from each other so that if a male hummingbird is aggressive about one, others can use the second feeder.

Have lots of late-season bloomers, like mums, so that there are many flowers blooming in the fall, since ruby-throated birds, for example, are staying later now in our gardens.

Zinnias, salvias, anise hyssop, asters, petunias, butterfly bush and rose of Sharon are just a few of the flowers that attract these little wonders.

Reference: “So Fast, So Fierce” by James Gorman in the New York Times (Science Times), Tuesday, February 5, 2019.

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