[Tweeters] Re: odd Anna's hummingbird behavior

Jim Greaves lbviman at blackfoot.net
Thu Nov 27 12:36:41 PST 2008

Can't speak for your event, but all wildlife tends to inspect odd
behavior of its member species -- deer get hit on highway and fawn
may go out to see what happened, etc. I've seen several species
inspect a treed bobcat kitten (Turkey vulture, scolding Nuttall's
woodpecker), and I've seen male Anna's locked foot-to-foot as they
hit the ground, then scuffled, and when one left the melee, the other
shook itself off and flew away. Never seen an animal appear to be
sympathetic to another, though I did hear some plaintive "cry" from a
female Bell's vireo when it went to try to feed its (by-then dead)
several day old, partially feathered chick which a cowbird had dumped
on ground from its nest in early morning cold.

Regarding bird feeder placement, (I cannot recall where I read it,
but) studies showed that birds were MORE likely to hit windows if
feeders were put more than a foot or so from the glass -- leading
researchers to conclude that shelves placed at the sill would be best
(thus, I suspect hanging feeders would do well if no more than a foot
away). Closer to the window, the slower a bird might travel when
intimidated away; if it hits glass, the less likely it is to be
injured or killed. Another solution: frost the glass (or don't clean
too regularly), or put stick-on glass window hangers on inside
(birds, butterflies, whatever) to help give depth to the location, so
birds are not likely to mistake reflections for open sky, and perhaps
avoid going towards the objects... hawk silhouettes probably NOT a good idea!

Jim Greaves, Thompson Falls MT

At 01:02 PM 11/27/2008, tweeters-request at mailman2.u.washington.edu wrote:

>Message: 3

>Date: Wed, 26 Nov 2008 15:24:33 -0800

>From: "Chuck Reinsch" <creinsch at humbirds.org>

>Subject: Re: [Tweeters] odd Anna's Hummingbird behavior

>To: <tweeters at u.washington.edu>


> <000801c9501e$23fd17c0$6f21d080 at clients.nebula2.washington.edu>

>Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed; charset="iso-8859-1";

> reply-type=original


>Others may have more info, but my understanding is that the "bond" between

>Anna's is no more than a few minutes: female perches in a visible place;

>male J-dives enough to trigger hormones; they fly together and crash into

>brush; its over.


>Hummers, especially juveniles, have a powerful curiosity (probably helps in

>locating food sources, but puts them in risky situations too), and they

>(especially males) are intensely territoriual. Recognizing that it is very

>hard to talk about animal behavior without anthropomorphizing, I suspect the

>one that landed on the stunned bird was just trying to intimidate it into

>leaving the vicinity of the feeder.


>Also, hummers visiting feeders are subject to "sneak" attacks by other

>hummers that may have territorialized the feeder. In the rush to escape an

>attack, it is not unusual for a hummer to go in what may be "the wrong

>direction" with potentially harmful consequences. I avoid putting feeders

>too close to windows because of that.


>chuck reinsch, magnolia, seattle, wa, (creinsch at humbirds.org)


>----- Original Message -----

>From: "Angela Percival" <angela at stillwatersci.com>

>To: <tweeters at u.washington.edu>

>Sent: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 12:33 PM

>Subject: [Tweeters] odd Anna's Hummingbird behavior



>My mom called from Portland yesterday to relay this event. She feeds the

>hummingbirds year-round and the feeders are near some large kitchen

>windows. A hummer hit one of the windows and landed on a wood shelf that

>sits just below it. The bird lay there motionless on its side. Then,

>another hummingbird came and landed on the motionless hummingbird and

>perched there a bit before flying away. Then it did the same thing a

>second time! After it flew off again, my mom went out to see if the

>hummer was dead, but it sat up and zoomed off.


>My mother had the feeling it was the bird's mate. I couldn't tell her

>one way or the other because I have never heard of such a thing. I

>suppose Anna's could retain a pair bond through the winter if they

>remain in one place all year. Does anyone have any guesses as to this



>Angela Percival

>Olympia, WA

>angela at stillwatersci dotcom

More information about the Tweeters mailing list