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Small Talk: Battle of the Birds

I put up a hummingbird feeder this summer, and have been reminded that those tiniest of birds are actually serious bad-asses.

I am now watching half a dozen birds approach the feeder, zoom around shrieking and aiming at each other and then fly away with no one getting a drink. My husband has also had several females dive-bomb his head while he was working in the garden, too near their nest. You just don’t want to mess with these small, but fierce critters.

As a mother might say, “You could lose an eye!”

My parents had a hummingbird feeder hanging in front of our kitchen window, so I have seen the males battle all day long. I have just learned, though, you can ease that some by putting up more feeders. Just like when I was raising kids – if you want peace, you have to buy two of everything.

I don’t think my father, the Air Force fighter pilot, ever considered doing that, though. I suspect he enjoyed watching the birds’ skills in aerial combat. And more feeders mean more need for the sticky task of mixing up the sugar-water and refilling the feeder.

This needed doing more than you might think because orioles also have a sweet tooth. They will smack land on the feeder, knocking the nectar far and wide, and then take bigger-bird-sized drinks. It’s worth it to see their gorgeous plumage and I am delighted to report we have had visits from one bright yellow oriole.

It has added a lovely bit of wildlife observation to our yard, and we enjoy hearing and watching more birds, now that we now longer own hunting-breed dogs. Now I am off to the store to buy more feeders.

As I always told my children, “There will be no fighting in my house.”

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer enjoying her lizards, birds and ripe tomatoes. Contact her at [email protected].