The Attack of the Hummingbirds

Jul
13

I love hummingbirds. I’m used to putting out a feeder and filling it a few times during the spring and summer. I’m used to seeing one or two hummingbirds. Spotting a hummingbird at the feeder is a happy surprise, not something you see all the time or even every day. After moving in here, we started putting up feeders, our expectations not taking into account that we had built a house halfway up a hill in the middle of a forest.

Apparently, forests are filled with birds. Hunh.





After I posted a photo of my porch, someone emailed me about red dye being bad for hummingbirds. I researched a bit and discovered conflicting reports as to whether red dye is or isn’t bad for hummingbirds, but what is known as an absolute is that it isn’t necessary in order to attract them. But, this feed was already in the feeders, and for awhile, it wasn’t going anywhere fast so my new plan to use clear sugar water had to wait. Over the past couple of months, there was a hummingbird visitor here, another there. Just the usual.

Then suddenly there came a swarm, as if the woodland community had finally gotten the memo.





I felt like I was in the middle of a Hitchcock movie. There were, I’m not kidding, at least twenty hummingbirds, all at once.

What you don’t see in these photos are the hummingbirds that were swooping and divebombing my front porch as they made passes at the feeders, buzzing and zipping around me with their long, sharp beaks. I took my life in my hands to take these pictures.





They sucked the feeders dry in a matter of hours. And I can’t decide if I want to stop filling the feeders for awhile in hopes they’ll go away or if I’m too scared to stop filling them because I think they will kill me if they don’t get what they want.

The Hummingbirds (2008) is a modern Hitchcock thriller/masterpiece, his first posthumous film with Universal Studios. It is the apocalyptic story of a remote West Virginia farm filled with an onslaught of seemingly unexplained, arbitrary and chaotic attacks of ordinary hummingbirds.”






If I’m found dead, the hummingbirds did it.





Comments

  1. Kim A. says:

    Oooh, how wonderful! I’ve only seen hummingbirds a handful of times in my entire life. I think I’d be out there watching them all the time if I had them coming to my feeder. They’re amazing, aren’t they? :smile:

    -Kim A.

  2. Lisa L says:

    LOL! Those are gorgeous pictures but I’m glad you were standing there taking them and not me! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Heidi says:

    This must be the year for it – I have TONS of them on my hube honeysuckle vine – not a bush, but a vine. It has orange flowers that look like little trumpets. I bet I get about 20 at a time out there!! It sounds like an airforce base with all the landing and taking off!!!!

    They are darling little creatures though arent they?

  4. Kool Aid says:

    oh WOW, that is so cool! We used to have one a while back and we only had two, sometimes three, that would visit. My kids would think divebombing hummingbirds would be so much fun!

  5. Nikki says:

    Not to scare you or anything, but my friend’s mom always tells the story of the time she forgot to fill the hummingbird feeder. No one was hurt, but she says the hummingbirds weren’t very happy…they bothered her until it was full again!

    I would refill them…but maybe move them a little furher away from the house?

  6. Cathy J. says:

    Thank you so much for taking all the time you do with this blog. It has become part of my morning ritual- coffee and your blog! (I think you should consider writing a novel about your life on the farm. :yes: )

  7. Stacia says:

    I’m a bird watcher, and I’ve never seen a hummingbird clearly enough to mark it off my list. And there you have hummingbirds galore! :wall: The pictures are super cool though!

  8. Tina L says:

    Wow, where did they all come from all of a sudden? We have a feeder and maybe see one bird at a time, just once or twice a day. I’d love to have enough so I could take some pictures.

  9. wammy says:

    I love hummers too. As for now we only have two. Thank you for sharing you shots. Maybe I should move back to WV. I want to be able to hand feed ours. And before I die I want to find a hummingbird nest.

  10. jane says:

    FEED THE BIRDS – BE A PART OF NATURE – it was lovely. how wonderful you got the shots of the birds in mid air. hard to do really.

  11. Employee No. 3699 says:

    I agree with Nikki, keep them filled, just move them a little farther from the house.

    Great pictures! And thanks, as always, for sharing. I love peeking in your window!

    Toodles~

  12. Jyl says:

    I agree with the masses…feed the birds.

  13. Carolyn A. says:

    I think you should submit those photos to National Geographic. I’m sure even they have never seen so many hummingbirds at one feeder. Those were fantastic shots. Thank you for sharing them with us. xxoo

  14. Tresha says:

    Man you are the luckiest gal in the World! I have three feeders and they all around my porch and the whole family loves to sit outside and watch the fight and try duck from all the dive bombing….I can’t help but hear Top Gun theme song playing everytime we are out there! but…the MOST I have ever had is 9 and I think they are just passing through…the mass is only here for August and then they leave…I always have about three for the entire summer….

    Tresh in OKlahoma

  15. Kacey says:

    I was sitting under the hummingbird feeder once at the lake, with a bright shirt on, and a hummingbird flew down my shirt! :eek: Make sure an incident such as that gets added to the movie …

    Great pics.

  16. Ashley says:

    Too cool. I’d suggest filling them again and agree that maybe putting them away from the porch is a good idea.

  17. wkf says:

    They will always do a drive by to see if you have filled them. Maybeyou could get extension arms for the feeders.
    :flying:

  18. Remudamom says:

    Our hummers just get clear sugar water too. The odd thing is, they love one feeder and mostly ignore the other. I’ve tried changing spots, etc. but they really seem to prefer one over the other.

  19. Amy says:

    I love the hummingbird story, but want to comment on the empty pie plate in the fridge. I don’t know why kids do that! Husbands do it too. They also leave empty boxes of butter, milk with about 3 dribbles left in the jug, empty jars of jelly – everything. I guess they figure that the Brownies who live here will magically wash and refill all the empty things in the fridge and pantry.

  20. annbb/TSannie says:

    I’m so envious! I’ve had one once and he must not have liked what he had because he’s never been back and he’s told everyone else to stay away! :hissyfit:
    Keep on feeding ’em! I love the pictures!

  21. Suzette says:

    I go along with refilling the feeders. But, I’d probably add more…more…MORE!

    I’ll second Cathy J’s comment about a novel. One of my all-time favorite books (and movie) is The Egg and I. Your story is no less entertaining. I’d stand in line for a copy!

    Oh, and the pie….my experience is that the empty pie pan is not returned to the fridge. Rather, the culprit eats from it while standing with the fridge door open. Just my recollection of life with teens. Your mileage may vary!

  22. Treasia says:

    I envy you the hummingbirds. They are my favorite and I look forward each spring to them coming. Since moving here however I only see one or two a day. To me this is disappointing. My mother calls them flying hogs because they empty her three feeders daily.

    Love the pictures.

  23. Donna says:

    Too funny about the empty pie plate…sounds like something I would have done. LOL

    I hope I am not repeating what someone has already said above, because I don’t have time this am, to read the comments. We LOVE Hummingbirds. Ours really don’t come around here (northern LA) until after Jul 1st. So, ours are just showing up. They are VERY territorial – they fight. One will try and run off the others, so we want to get another feeder and you can’t put the feeders too close. My brother raises birds as a hobby. He said it is not the red water they are attracted to – it is the red on the feeder. Or, in other words, you don’t HAVE to use red water. We use sugar water – clear. Also, you have to change the water every 3rd day or so, or they won’t drink…
    We got a feeder similar to yours, but it has a little platform where they can perch..sit awhile and drink.
    I think Baltimores try and run them off and why the bigger birds do that, who knows – guess they want water too and can’t drink out of it. So, they need a diff. feeder. At least that is what my friend says, so is a big bird person, garden person…
    My husband took photos like yours, with his zoom lens. They are so fascinating and their nests the size of a silver dollar. They remind ME of mini Woody Wood Peckers. LOL Or the Jestsons cartoon – zooming around. I think they stay here, until after a frost or two, before they fly off for winter in Mexico. Aren’t they adorable??????

  24. Tori Lennox says:

    Wow! We’re lucky if we get one at a time around here. I’m jealous! Though I’d be sure to keep them happy.

  25. Karen says:

    Love your photos. We had hummingbird feeders a few years back & all we got were ants. These photos make me want to try again. We had the potato salad yesterday big hit here.

  26. Claudia W says:

    Amazing! We get a lot of Hummingbirds in our back yard because of the multitude of “natural” (weeds)plantings I have in abundance. I don’t get to see themeveryday, because I have not gotten to the point of taking time to smell the roses and watch forthem. They are beautiful amazing birds. If I were you, I’d continue feeding them. Someday, they might not be around as much.

  27. Christine says:

    Beautiful shots. Where we are now we don’t even have to put out feeders. We can just watch them among the flowers. I hate to imagine what it would be like if we actually did feed them.

  28. maryann says:

    Sigh I am envious we don’t get many hummingbirds around here. Mostly bees and wasp get to the feeders. One thought on the empty pie plate is that if they put the empty plate back in the sink, then they might be expected to wash it??

  29. Beckynsc says:

    Great shots, Suzanne!
    I have feeders, but I don’t get time to watch them.

  30. Shari C says:

    Thank you for puttin your life at risk and taking these photos. I have never seen so many hummingbirds in one place. We have one hummingbird that shows up almost every day at our home, but that is it. Wow! Our bird must be keeping the news to himself so he doesn’t have to share the goodies.

  31. happyathome says:

    Those are the BEST hummingbird pictures I have ever seen! I am in the market for a new camera, what are you using to get those shots? What really surpises me is that they are a very aggresive bird and the fact you see soo many at a feeder is amazing! yea when they zip by you, I always jump like you have been attacked by a plane swooping in at you. Such an amazing bird for being so little!
    http://lifeislikechampagne.blogspot.com/

  32. Lisa J says:

    Man, I have never seen that many hummingbirds in one place at one time. We have feeders and replenish a couple times a week. But they fight over the feeder and I have never seen two on one feeder at a time. My feeders are similar to yours and I use the red dye for now. Next time I won’t either and will see if it makes a difference. But still, I am AMAZED that so many birds feeding at one time. Awesome!

  33. Kimmen says:

    I’ve seen this twice in my life- both times near water and woods, in Arkansas and Texas. It is a lifetime experience! Both places had been feeding the hummers for years, and they had hundreds- yes hundreds, of the little dive bombers. Both were places of business, too, so you took your life in your hands getting to the front door. They are extremely territorial and zoom at anything that is bothering them, like photographers and other birds.

    The photos are wonderful- you did a great job. Now you just need to decide if you want to be a local tourist attraction.
    K

  34. Heather Harper says:

    I love hummingbirds, too!

    They used to fly right up to my face and hover when I was pregnant. I’ll never forget that. And my baby (oldest) turns ten in a few weeks. :birthday1:

    Thanks for the pics. :heart:

  35. Tobey says:

    One of the other blogs I read daily is a birder, “Birdchick” and she had a recent blog about the scarcity of hummingbirds across the nation. She also has great photographs!

    http://www.birdchick.com/2008/07/hummingbird-decline.html#comments
    is the blog about the hummingbirds

    OH, and she keeps bees, too…

  36. Baby Island says:

    Oh Funny! I had the same experience a few years ago with a hord of flying, zooming, buzzing hummingbirds. I would have to refill the feeder every day and those mean little hummers would dive bomb me while I tried to change the nectar. The sound alone, of the hummers descending, is enough to keep up late at night.

    Have you noticed how they battle eachother? They really are mean little suckers for such pretty tiny birds.

    Have fun and get some protective eye wear….

  37. Karen says:

    I had a weekend home at Lake Eufaula OK and that the way the hummingbirds were there, they just swarmed the feeders especially when it got hot and the flowers stop blooming. I’ve even had them ‘chew’ me out verbally when a feeder was empty, then hover & hang around until I refilled them! I think they are wonderful, but don’t get them in the city – enjoy your hilltop and the hummingbirds!

  38. Amy says:

    We love our hummingbirds! We have at least two distinct families that feed at our feeder these days, and never at the same time. Males are VERY territorial, I’m told. Our multi-colored male and the red-breasted male will not feed at the same time. I think each one might come with their families, beause we do get multiple birds, but the rest are very plain. But I don’t know for sure. Just going on what I’m told by my mother who has had feeders for decades.

    If you don’t fill the feeder, they won’t come back. We had a feeder run dry one year while we were gone, and we lost one of the families that fed there, even after we refilled it.

    And in the event of dive-bombing attacks, make sure Coco is at the TOP of the stairs with her heels kicked off.

  39. Robbyn says:

    Feed em! If you run out of the red stuff, now that they know where the feeder is, they’ll do just fine on a sugar-water solution without the dye. It’s a privilege to have so many…enjoy! (I’ve never yet heard of a hummingbird-impalement, so I’d not worry that much about getting dive-bombed, but you could always move it to a farther corner )

  40. Jean says:

    They could be just migrating through. This would be the right time for it. But I did have a large population that stayed most of the year when I lived in Northern Calif. It’s like a blessing on your farm to have them show up now.

  41. Doris says:

    Some are probably migratory, but they come a few at a time and then build nests. You will not see many while they are nesting.When the young leave the nest is when they all come to the feeders. I have 7 large feeders out and they need filling every 3 to 4 days. I feed half sugar and half water. They love it ! Do not fear their beaks LOL. They are flexible as rubber .They could not stick you if they wanted to. I have been feeding them here on our farm for over 38 years and they come back every year. I love them and laugh when one looks in the kitchen window to tell me a feeder is empty ! Our spring and summer comes a little earlier here .Please keep feeding them .They expect it now and think you belong to them. It is also true they love honeysuckle best of all. When it stops blooming they return to the feeders in force. :yes:

  42. BeachGirl says:

    How amazing that you have so many hummingbirds on your property. Enjoy them. What a wonderful sight to see so many around your feeders.

  43. vanessa jaye says:

    Those shots are fantastic, Suzanne! I’ve been meaning to put out a hummingbird feeder to see if we get any, I think I’ll check at Walmart this week for one. At least now I know *not* to put the feeder too close to the patio doors/on the deck. :-P

  44. Susan says:

    It must be the year for hummingbirds! Like you, we only had a couple in the beginning. Then holy smokes they came in droves! They bombard us while we fill the hummingbird feeders and when we are on the porches. :flying:

    Suzanne, they are fantastic photos! My advice is…learn to duck. :lol:

  45. Estella says:

    What great pictures of the hummers!
    I have fed hummingbirds for years. I live in the west where we have numerous species of them.
    I had two Annas Hummingbirds at my feeder all winter. I love to watch them.

  46. jodi says:

    I am SO jealous! I love hummingbirds.
    Maybe you could move the feeder to more out of the way place where you can see them, but you don’t need to walk by them. On the otherhand, I could see this being made into a very entertaining movie…so maybe you should leave it where it is.

  47. Veggie Mom says:

    These photos are amazing! My SIL says I need a hummingbird feeder–I’m on my way out to get one, now!

  48. Kathy R says:

    Years ago we were living with my in-laws in Minnisota while I was pregnant with my son (now 37). My mom in California wanted LOTS of pictures, but we were too broke to have them developed. My mom had us send her the finished rolls, and she would develop them and send me back copies.

    One roll she developed had a picture of an old truck tire. She was confused, to say the least, until I pointed out that there was a hummingbird perched on the tire. My father-in-law had grabbed my camera to catch the picture. Large tire, small hummingbird. It was the only hummingbird they saw that whole summer.

  49. Joanne says:

    i’ve never seen them around here…or ever in real life. Just an amazing picture, thanks for sharing ;) You could not have picked a better place to build your farm. Welcome to your new life and “family.”

  50. Melissa's Cozy Teacup says:

    The lodge where my husband and I stayed for the fourth had 3 feeders up and they were busy all the time, even into the twilight. One in particular was a rufous hummingbird. More maneuverable and aggressive than the others, he was fast and quite territorial and gorgeous!
    I say fill ’em up and watch the fun!

  51. Jennifer Robin says:

    It’s chipmunks that we’re overrun with here, the cute little devils! I’ve been thinking about putting up a hummingbird feeder too, and now after seeing your pictures, I just have to!

  52. Donna says:

    Doris, that is interesting about the Honeysuckle..I have a bush in a pot, on my porch, near thier feeder. My husband refuses to string it along the fence…he wants to get a wood trellis to run it up on…so I am just thankful it’s thriving. LOL

  53. Shimmy Mom says:

    Holy cow! I can’t believe how many of them there are. Your photos are great. Thanks for sacrificing yourself. My grandmother would be so jealous if she were still here. She loved to bird watch and a yard full of hummingbirds would have made her day.

  54. Brandy says:

    Wow! These pictures are fantastic! I’ve never seen so many Hummingbirds in one place at one time. I’d refill it just so I could watch them. *G*

  55. Susan in CA says:

    I once tried to do without the red :heart: food coloring and the hummingbirds wouldn’t drink it! I taped red :heart: construction paper around the feeder and they came! So I think the red :heart: helps and if we eat it in red :heart: velvet cake, i don’t think one little drop in several cups of nectar will hurt the birds. Maybe California hummingbirds are more picky! I love them. Ours really chirp and talk to each other, sometimes they argue. I didn’t notice any sounds from the ones back East.

  56. catslady says:

    Amzaing pictures. I’ve never seem more than a few at a time. We have a honeysuckle bush on our hill and my neighbor has a feeder so I get to see them sometimes.

  57. catslady says:

    oops – that was “Amazing”

  58. TeresaH says:

    Wow, great hummingbird pictures! I can’t seem to get any here. You should submit some of those pictures to Birds & Blooms magazine.

    I’d keep feeding them too, I’d even put up more feeders. We feed the birds a lot here (and the squirrels help themselves too)

  59. Kim W says:

    WAY COOL!!!

    Blessings from Ohio…

  60. Stephanie says:

    That’s just about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!!!! :flying:

  61. Crystal B. says:

    Beautiful photos. Hummingbirds are amazing. I love seeing them.

  62. Zoe Ann Hinds says:

    As you said, there is a great going on as to if you should use red food coloring. I have heard it to be unhealthy for the hummingbirds, although I have not found out why this is yet. You really don’t need to add it if your feeder already has some red on it, because the birds will find it.

  63. Kim says:

    That is awesome! I’ve seen hummingbirds in that number at my M-I-L’s house and it sure is something to watch. My daughter would creep over to the feeder slowly and then stand there and let them fly all around her head. I sure wished I hadn’t forgotten my camera on that day.

  64. Bayou Woman says:

    Amazing photos! Aren’t they fantastic?

  65. Kelly says:

    DON’T WEAR RED AND YOU MAY SURVIVE THOSE MUTANT MINI MONSTERS :eek: :eek:

  66. Zoe Ann Hinds says:

    Be glad you have as many hummingbirds as you do. I live in southeast Texas, about 90-100 miles from Houston, and there has been a great decline in the number of hummingbirds seen in this area in recent years. I wish I could explain the reason for the decline but I can’t. Hummingbirds please come back!

  67. RC says:

    I noticed some around my roses so I bought a feeder about three months ago. The day after I put it up, I came home from the store and I saw what looked to be a swarm of bees around it. The closer I got I could tell it was hummers and they were fighting for the spots. I tried to shoo them away and they came after me. I keep it full but I stay away otherwise. Now my wife believes me after reading your story.

  68. Carol Langille says:

    I know I’m a year late for this but I have to tell you about my sister’s hummingbirds. I have videos of the from two summers ago…amazing! She has four feeders on her back porch and three or four in the front porch and yard. Oh my Gosh!!! She goes through a gallon of sugar water in a day! No kidding! And there are at least 30-40 birds buzzing around during morning and early evening feeding time. It’s wonderful! The air is actually moving from the beat of so many fast, tiny wings. You would love it. My sister lives way out in the country near Hermann, Mo, and the hummers arrive at her house on my other sister’s birthday, April 24th. My Mom always said it’s a good thing hummingbirds aren’t the size of CROWS!

  69. 4rum says:

    I just buy feeders with a red bottle. Here’s a link to a short video of my hummers. Hope it works, Photobucket has been a bit cranky of late.

    http://s324.photobucket.com/albums/k338/all4rum/?action=view&current=hums003.flv

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